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Full text of "CE Lifestyles Volume 3 Issue 3"

consumer 
electronics 



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ceLifestvles.com 





WHAT'S STOPPING YOU? 



.- — -— -— ~_ 



£ 





TOSHIBA DVD VIDEO RECORDER WITH 160GB HARD DRIVE AND SIMPLIFIED OPERATION WITH OUR EASY NAVI SYSTEM. 
THEY GOT THEIRS. WHAT'S STOPPING YOU? 



All marks and corporate and braad identities represented here are the property of their respective owners, 
* GB equals one billion bytes. ** Actual recording time will vary depending upon picture quality selected. 

© 2005 Toshiba America Consumer Products, LLC. mytoshibadvd.com 



TOSHIBA 

Image is Everything" 




ceLifestyles.com 



feature topic 

Kids & Technology 

Your kids are always looking for the latest and greatest in 
everything, and that includes technology and CE devices. 
There are laptops, digital cameras, gaming systems, and 
MP3 players made specifically for children, but do all 
those devices put your kids in CE overdrive? This month, 
we give you guidelines on what types of electronics are 
best for kids and when, and we'll also tell you how you 
can navigate through the muck to find products that will 
truly help your children learn and grow. 

34 Technology & Kids 

Parenting The Google Generation 

$ I Consumer Electronics Age Guidelines 

Consumer Electronics & Your Baby 
(& Toddler, Too!) 

Switch On A Little Parenting Help 

4^ CE For Grade-schoolers 

How Should You Introduce Your Kids 
To Electronics? 

CE & The Tween Years 

Tweens Are A Marketer's Dream 

ijU The Tech Generation 

Cool Gadgets & The Teens Who Love Them 

54 Editor's Top 10 

Simple CE Devices 

Tips 

Keep It In One Piece 



Copyright 2006 by Sandhills Publishing Company. All rights reserved. 
Reproduction of material appearing in CE Lifestyles, Volume 3 Issue 3 is 
strictly prohibited without written permission. Printed in the U.S.A. GST # 
123482788RT0001. CE Lifestyles (ISSN 1554-2106) is published monthly 
by Sandhills Publishing Company, 131 West Grand Drive, P.O. Box 85380, 
Lincoln, NE 68501-5380. Subscriber Services: (800) 733-3809. POST- 
MASTER: Send address changes to CE Lifestyles, P.O. Box 85380, 
Lincoln, NE 68501-5380. Periodicals postage pending at Lincoln, NE. 





Featured on our cover this month is the Motorola PEBL 
($299.99 with T-Mobile service plan; www.motorola.com). 



Open 



There's always something new, interesting, and stylish hap- 
pening in the world of consumer electronics. That's why the 
Open section packs the latest news and trends into the first 
few pages of CE Lifestyles, along with the sparkle and bling that 
you can buy to accessorize your devices. 

6 CE News 

10 ShelfWatch 

A Look At The Latest Consumer Electronics 

12 Outfit Your Life 

Accessories With Style 

I 4 Shopping Site Of The Month 

Jewels For Me (www.jewelsforme.com) 

16 His & Hers CE 
1 8 Fab Four 



A/V Club 




Some of our favorite electronic gadgets are the ones that pro- 
vide the sounds and pictures that move and entertain us and 
our friends and family. Whether you want to put together a 
wireless audio system for your home or just want help using 
the plasma TV in your living room, A/V Club can help. 

Best Budget MP3 Players 

Grab One & Hit The Road 

24 All Jacked Up 

Untangle The Mess Of Inputs 
Behind Your A/V Equipment 

26 The TV Guide, Part II 

Making It Come Together 

Can You Repair Your CDs & DVDs? 

Scratches Possibly, Cracks No 

32 Tips 

Tweak Your Home-Theater Speakers 




Digital Studio 



Digital cameras and camcorders are changing the way we 
record the moments of our lives, from quick snapshots of 
favorite vacation spots to priceless video clips of first steps and 
other important milestones. Get to know your new digicam or 
camcorder and learn what to do with your photos and video 
once you have them. 

56 Digital Photo Project 

Photo Puzzle 

58 Splurge & Steal 

Take Great Pictures On Any Budget 

J\J Our Favorite Photo-Sharing Sites 

Share Photos & Much More 

64 Know How 

One Problem, Three Solutions 

68 Tips 

Spring Photography 




CE ©Home 



The consumer electronics in our homes are 
no longer limited to TVs and DVD players. 
Smart appliances, home automation, and 
whole-house audio systems are becoming 
more and more common and affordable for 
families, and with so much available, why 
check CE at the door? 

70 Gift Of The Month 

3D Home Architect Landscape & 
Patio Design 

/ 2. Be Prepared For Disaster 

Protect Your Data From Catastrophe 

75 Tips 

Keep Your CE Gear Clean 



CE Lite 



Most CE devices are all about fun. Here, we'll 
tell you about the latest albums and films to 
catch, so you can make sure your entertain- 
ment is as up-to-date as your gear. Also, read 
what real women just like you are saying 
about how consumer electronics are affecting 
their everyday lives. 

Music & Movies 



90 



Games & Gifts 



What They're Saying 

How much will you spend 
this year on CE? 




96 



Exit 




Editor's Note 



For most of the nation, March is one big flirtation of a month. We'll get a glimmer of 
springtime hope with a day of 50 degree weather; but then March, the little coquette she 
is, will pull the rug out from underneath us with one of those late-winter blizzards that leave 
us feeling hopeless that we'll ever again be warm. 

What to do with those desperate feelings? Go someplace warm! I'm writing this month's 
note from CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas during the beginning of Jan- 
uary. It's a lovely 70 degrees and has been for days. I'm not wearing a jacket, and during the 
day I can wear flip-flops. What a wonderful way to get away from the winter gray of Nebraska. 
But I haven't left everything at home— far from it. I'm writing on my laptop; I'm listening to 
Outkast on my MP3 player; and I've got my Treo 650 smart phone so I can snap photos of the 
beautiful new Wynn casino and email them to my friends and family. 

Sure, I could pack light and leave everything unnecessary at home. But the feeling of isola- 
tion and disconnectedness that is so easy to get when you're on the road is not fun at all 
compared to getting the latest photos of my niece via email or being able to boogie down to 
"Hey Ya" in my hotel room. To me, my laptop, MP3 player, and other CE devices are as neces- 
sary as the sunscreen on my shoulders. 

Traveling can be a total break from home; but I like to think of it as a way that I can isolate 
and focus on the best things in my life and let all the all the other 
everyday annoyances fall by the wayside. Technology helps me do 
that by letting me stay connected to what I value most. What 
better way to spend a week in Las Vegas? 

Live well, friends. 





Katie Sommer 

Editor, CE Lifestyles 

katie-sommer@celifestyles.com 



SLifety 

yies-com 



CeLifesiyleS-COm 

Editorial Staff* Ronald D. Kobler / Katie 
Sommer / Kathryn Dolan / Corey Russman 
/ Rod Scher / Christopher Trumble / Calvin 
Clinchard / Kimberly Fitzke / Blaine Flamig 
/ Raejean Brooks / Sally Curran / Michael 
Sweet / Nate Hoppe / Trista Kunce / Sheila 
Allen / Linne Ourada / Joy Martin / Ashley 
Finter / Brian Weed / Marty Sems / Chad 
Denton / Nathan Chandler / Kylee Dickey / 
Josh Gulick / Andrew Leibman / Vince 
Cogley / Sam Evans /Jennifer Johnson 

Web Staff. Dorene Krausnick / Laura Curry 
/ Kristen Miller 

Customer Service: Becky Rezabek / Lana 
Matic / Lindsay Albers 

Subscription Renewals: Connie Beatty / 
Matt Boiling / Patrick Kean / Charmaine 
Vondra / Miden Ebert / Kathy DeCoito / 
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Art & Design: Lesa Call / Carrie Benes / 
Ginger Falldorf / Fred Schneider / Sonja 
Warner / Aaron Weston / Aaron Clark / 
Lori Garris / Jason Codr / Andria Schultz / 
Erin Rodriguez / Lindsay Anker 

Newsstand: Garth Lienemann /Jeff 
Schnittker 

Advertising Sales: Grant Ossenkop / Cindy 
Pieper / Brooke Wolzen / Eric Cobb 

Marketing: Mark Peery / Liz Kohout / Kelly 
Richardson / Marcy Gunn /Jen Clausen / 
Scot Banks / Ashley Hannant / Luke 
Vavricek / Travis Brock 

Customer Service 

(For questions about your subscription or 
to place an order or change an address.) 
customer.service@celifestyles.com 
(800) 733-3809 
FAX: (402) 479-2193 

CE Lifestyles 

P.O. Box 85380 
Lincoln, NE 68501-5380 

Hours 

Mon. - Fri.: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (CST) 
Sat.: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (CST) 
Online Customer Service 
& Subscription Center 
www.celifestyles.com 

Web Services 

(For questions about our Web site.) 

webhelp@celifestyles.com 

(800) 368-8304 

Authorization For Reprints 

REPRINT MANAGEMENT SERVICES 

Toll Free: (800) 290-5460 

(717) 399-1900 ext. 100 Fax: (717) 399-8900 

CELifestyles@reprintbuyer.com 

www.reprintbuyer.com 

Editorial Staff 

editor@celifestyles.com 
FAX: (402) 479-2104 
131 W.Grand Drive 
Lincoln, NE 68521 

Subscription Renewals 

(800) 424-7900 
FAX: (402) 479-2193 
www.celifestyles.com 

Advertising Staff 

(800)848-1478 
FAX: (402) 479-2193 
120 W. Harvest Dr. 
Lincoln, NE 68521 



'O 




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All other trademarks are property of their respective owners. All prices are U.S. estimated street prices. 



open 



ce news 



Compiled by Rachel Derowitsch 



Till Gives Readers 

One-Touch Access to podcasts 

Somatic Digital (www.somaticcligital.com), a developer of Touch User 
Interface technology, has announced that publishers can now link podcasts to 
the printed page because of enhancements to its BookDesigner software. 
Through sensors embedded in books and catalogs, TUI lets readers retrieve digital 
content stored on hard drives, the Internet, or optical media. 

Not only do products that incorporate TUI benefit hearing- and visually- 
impaired students, but they also offer another way for marketers and pub- 
lishers to reach customers. For instance, customers could download a 
publisher's or retailer's podcast to their computer 
player through the use of Bluetooth technology 
and then listen to it at their convenience — 
all initiated through the touch of a paper 
icon. Jason Barkeloo, president of 
Somatic, says he envisions many uses 
for this technology, such as in cook- 
books and repair manuals. 



or 






•tplr 




I 



MICROSOFT 

PACKAGING 

Gets Eco-Friendly 

^ The world's biggest soft- 
ware maker is helping the 
environment in a big way. 
Microsoft has phased out 
the use of PVC (polyvinyl 
chloride) packaging for its 
products in favor of PET 
(polyethylene terephthalate), 
a chlorine-free plastic com- 
monly found in recyclable 
bottles, jars, and milk cartons. 
As of Jan. 1, at least 25% of the 
PET content Microsoft is using 
in its packaging is recycled. 



6 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



open ce 



news 




First HD RCICHO Receptor Debuts 

With all the attention satellite radio has been getting, it's easy to 
overlook HD radio. Now that the first HD radio receptor has hit the 
market, though, that may change. 

The Boston Acoustics Receptor Radio HD ($499; www.boston 
acoustics.com) employs HD technology from iBiquity Digital. This 
tabletop model lets you tune in to high-definition radio broadcasts 
and multicasting, where available. The compact, platinum-colored 
system comes with two speakers, an input for AAP3 players and other 
devices, 20 AM/FM presets, and a sleek remote control. 

Hundreds of AM and FM stations across the United States broadcast in 
high definition. To find an HD station in your area, click the map at 
www.ibiquity.com/hdradio/hdradio_hdstations.htm. 

Yamaha, Radiosophy, and Polk Audio are expected to release their 
own HD tabletop radios this year, according to the iBiquity Web site. 



All-Digital TV BfOCIClCCIStS Will Be Law In 2009 

W Analog TV broadcasts will be history come Feb. 17, 2009. That's the new deadline set by the U.S. Senate for TV 
plete the transition from analog to digital broadcasts. The bill also provides $1.5 
billion in converter box vouchers to assist the 21 million U.S. homes that use 
neither cable nor satellite TV. 

Switching to all-digital broadcasts will free parts of the radio spectrum, much 
of which will be auctioned off by the government for at least $10 billion. The rest 
will be allocated for improving communications among emergency services, 
such as fire departments. 

The original transition date Congress set was for the end of 2008, but the new 
deadline is the result of a compromise reached between the House of 
Representatives and the Senate, which had backed an April 7, 2009, deadline. 



stations to com- 



Deii Recalls Laptop Batteries 



Dell is recalling batteries installed in about 22,000 notebooks the company 
sold from October 2004 to October 2005, saying that they are susceptible 
to overheating and posing a fire risk. If you bought a Dell notebook 
during that time, Dell encourages you to call (866) 342-001 1 between 
8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST or log on to www.de 1 1 battery 
program.com. At press, time Dell says it had received three 
reports of batteries overheating and damaging furniture and other 
personal property; there have been no reported injuries to date. 




: estyles / March 2006 7 



open ce 



news 



mark 



t p I a 



Higher Ringtone Prices Don't Deter Consumers 

A 2005 survey by The NPD Group (www.npdgroup.com) shows that con- 
sumers are willing to pay more for a portion of a song used as a ringtone for their 
cell phone than to download the entire song for their AAP3 player. The current 
average price of a ringtone is $2.50 compared to 99 cents for an entire song. NPD's 
research showed that the optimal price for consumers who already bought ring- 
tones is $3.25 for each new tone. 



Printer Owners Wary 

Of Third-Party Ink Jet Cartridges 

m Lyra Research has found that U.S. consumers have many reasons for not buying 
third-party, or aftermarket, ink jet cartridges. The single greatest reason is that 
they don't trust the quality of these cartridges. Other reasons include compati- 
bility issues and negligible price differences: 

Reasons For Not Buying Third-Party Cartridges 

I don't trust aftermarket ink jet cartridges 23% 

I want only the best print quality 21% 

I cannot find an aftermarket cartridge that is compatible 12% 

The difference in price is not enough to make me switch 10% 

I am worried about damaging my printer 8% 

My preferred store does not carry aftermarket cartridges 7% 

Other 7% 

Selecting an aftermarket cartridges is too confusing 6% 

Don't know 6% 



tidbits 



About 25 million 

Americans have sold 

something online. 

Source: Pew Internet 
& American Life Project 



4 million U.S.tweens 
will be using their own 

cell phones by 2009 

Source: iGillottResearch 



83% of U.S. and Canadian 
youths and young adults (ages 12 to 21) 

use instant messaging 

compared to 32% of online adults. 
Source: Forrester Research 



Bob Dylan win host 

a weekly mUSiC ShOWon 
XM Satellite Radio channel 40 
beginning in March. 

Source: XM Satellite Radio 



Online Stores Reel In Shoppers 
With Free Shipping 

According to BizRate Research, free shipping with conditions ranked as the most 
successful online retailing promotion during the 2005 holiday shopping season, 
with 62% of retailers citing that as their most successful sales promotional. 

In addition to money-saving promotions, shoppers gave other reasons for 
buying online: 



47 million U.S. households 

will pay bills online 

by 2010, a 75% increase from 

the end of 2004. 

Source: Forrester Research 



Reasons For Holiday Online Shopping 

Avoiding crowds 73.4% 

Convenience 66.6% 

Avoiding lines 59.0% 

Ease of finding items 51.6% 

Price comparisons 51.1% 

Product comparisons 44.5% 



Visa USA's SpendTrak report says that consumers spent more than $500 million 
online on Cyber Monday (the first Monday after Thanksgiving) alone using Visa 
cards, a 26% increase from the same day in 2004. 




Worldwide 
shipments of PCs win 

grow by 10.5% this year, thanks 

to an increased demand 

for portable units. 

Source: IDC 



8 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 




Every Theater Needs A Stage. 

No one understands the role of home entertainment furniture better than 
Salamander Designs, where we devote ourselves to the art. Choose from base 
modules in various widths and heights. Customize your unit for enclosed storage 
and/or open shelf space. Add accessories, from a panel TV mount to interior 
lighting. Then get a comfortable view of it all from one of our lush theater chairs. 



15 



SALAMANDER DESIGN 
Our Worlds a Stage 





See your many choices, including luxurious seating options, and plan your furniture system on-line at Lif6rUrnitur6.COm. 
Phone:800-892-9919 



open 




o 



D 









C/5 



by Gregory Anderson 



Apple's iPod 
nano was 
one of last 
year's most 
popular 
products. 
Spruce up 
your nano 
(or other 
iPod models) 
with some of 
these simple 
yet useful 
accessories. 




Oregon Scientific iBall 

$249 • www.oregonscientific.com 

The iBall rolls into town with a wireless speaker, a charging dock, and an iTunes sync 
cable. Drop your nano in the dock, sync with your computer, and transmit the play- 
er's contents to the cute round speaker from up to 100 feet away. 



cs» 




Trendy Geek Trendy Shield 

$12.99 for three • www.trendygeek.com 

Users' biggest complaints about the nano are about the tendency of the screens to 
scratch. Clear plastic shields from Trendy Geek protect your iPod from scratches 
while preserving the Click Wheel functions and showing off the player's design and 
natural finish. 



10 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



open 



Etymotic Research ER6 
Isolator earphones 

$139 • www.etymotic.com 

Specifically designed to match the new optional black finish 
introduced with the nano (and now on the video iPod), 
Etymotic's in-ear headphones are top-of-the-line for sound 
quality and isolation. Forget gym noise or crying babies on an 
airplane; get lost in your own soundtrack. 





CyraKnow Rambler Audio 
Phrase Books 

$12.95 each; 

$34.95 for four-language pack • 

www.cyraknow-audio.com 

Get ready for vacation with CyraKnow's language phrase 
books created specifically for iPods. Choose from 
Spanish, French, Italian, and German— or get all four. 
Look up words or phrases on the nano's screen and then 
listen to pronunciation guides and other information. "Bien 
stir, je parle francos. Pourquoi demandez-vous?" 



Logitech Wireless Music 
System For iPod 

$149.99 • www.logitech.com 

Wirelessly stream your nano's contents to any home stereo or set of 
speakers from up to 33 feet away. Logitech's system pairs a transmitter 
plugged into your iPod's headphone port with a receiver plugged into an 

input jack on a stereo system, receiver, or standalone speakers 




CE Lifestyles / March 2006 11 



open 




Accessories With Style 

Gear up for springtime. 

COMPILED BY SEAN DOOLITTLE 







Cevese iPod Case 

$35 • www.moma 
store.org 



Italian designer Luisa Cevese decided 
to make use of the material normally 
wasted during textile production. This 
tote captures colorful scraps of fabric, 
collected from factory floors around 
the world, between translucent layers 
of vinyl. Durable, eye-catching and 
unique, the Cevese iPod case is avail- 
able through the Museum of Modern 
Art gift store, and museum members 
pay only $31.50. 




Bennie And Olive Pulp Fiction iPod Cases 

$69 • store.virginthreads.com/bennie 
andolive.html 

Any fan of the early 20th-century 
American dime novel knows that a hoi- 
lowed-out book makes a great place to 
keep your gat, vial of poison, secret room 
key, or emergency cash. Now you can 
keep your iPod there, too. These cases are 
designed to look like old-school pulp fic- 
tion titles, while featuring hard covers to 
protect the goods inside. Fits older 20GB 
or 40GB players, see, and we don't mean 
maybe. Select from such thrilling titles as 
The Ace of Spades, Scavengers in Space, or 
our personal favorite, Hotel Fever. 



* * 



* * 



••* 




Powers Of 2 BCD Clock 

$29.99 • www.anelace.com 

If you looked at this product graphic 
before reading this text, and you said 
to yourself, "Hey, cute! That clock tells 
time in binary code," well, at least two 
things may be true: You need to get 
out of the office more often, and 
Target.com is stocking the Powers of 
2 BCD clock with you in mind. We're 
not sure how it handles daylight 
savings time, but instructions 
are included. 



surfACE Laptop Support System 

$144 (clear), $149 (translucent) • 
www.edge blur.com 

Form follows function and vice versa with 
this portable laptop table from edgeBLUR. 
You can configure your surfACE for bed, 
tabletop, easy chair, or anywhere else work 
happens. Ergonomic engineering supports 
human and machine together; design ele- 
ments, such as the perforated worktop, 
create a modern look while affording prac- 
tical heat distribution. Optional attach- 
ments, such as a tripod mount for creating 
instant workspaces on the road, are avail- 
able and/or in development at edgeBLUR. 



12 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 




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open 

Shopping Site Of The Month 

Jewels For Me 

www.jewelsforme.com 




iamonds are a girl's best friend. Right? Well, 

although we love diamonds as much as the next girl, 

we like other stones, too. In fact, we like anything 

that sparkles. The jewelry you wear says a lot about 

you. It might proclaim your attachment to another 

or give a hint of your birth month. Or, it may just 

say, "Look at me. I am fabulous." Although we don't 

know how or why, wearing beautiful jewelry just makes 

us smile a little bit wider. 



Even though it's safe to say that most 
women love jewelry, each one probably 
likes something different. So why settle 
for a piece that's mass produced when 
you can have a hand in designing your 
own masterpiece? At Jewels For Me 
(www.jewelsforme.com), that's exactly 
what you can do. And what makes it 
even better is you don't have to go to 
the mall to do it. In fact, you don't have 
to leave home. 

Lose Your Mind 

We love shopping online, and most of 
the time, we're able to keep our compo- 
sure while making our selections. But 
when we started exploring Jewels For 
Me, we quickly realized that a girl 
could lose her mind with all the 
choices this site offers. And that's 
a good thing. 

Unlike other jewelry design sites 
we've visited, Jewelry For Me lets 
you design not only rings, but 
also earrings, pendants, and 
bracelets. When you enter the 
Jewels For Me site, you'll see the 



birthstone of the current month fea- 
tured, so during March, you'll see a large 
blue gemstone and the heading Alluring 
Aquamarine. Along the top of the site is 
a list of the months, along with a jewel 
representing that month's birthstone. 
Click the stone to see that month's page 
and view jewelry featuring that stone. 
You can also click a link to learn more 
about the birthstone you've chosen. 

If you'd prefer to search by item, use the 
links along the left side of the page. You 
can click a link to begin designing Rings, 
Earrings, Pendants, and Bracelets, or you 
can use drop-down menus to narrow 
your search by price, shape (cut of the 
stone), or stone. 



HE 

RINGS 
EARRINGS 








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v 

^riDose jour 
Stone 


PENDANTS 


_ MaHtt^te 






BRACELETS 


AQUAMARINE 

LB*m flpilul AqiJ4i.iqrll.Pi 


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Let The Fun Begin 

To try your hand at designing, click the 
link of your choice. In order to see the 
greatest number of possibilities, we 
clicked Rings and then Design Your Own. 
From this page you can choose to view 
your choices in yellow or white gold by 
clicking the corresponding link or change 
your choice of jewelry (to earrings, pen- 
dants, or bracelets) at any time. We 
decided to shop for a ring in white gold. 

We found a style we liked (a simple de- 
sign with three 3mm round stones) and 
clicked the picture. Next we played with 
various combinations of stones, using a 
series of drop-down menus under the 
Design Your Own Ring heading. We 
opted for a patriotic look and selected 
Genuine Ruby, Genuine White Topaz, 
and Genuine Sapphire from the menus. If 
you like what you see, select your size 
from the drop-down menu and click Add 
To Cart to begin the ordering process. 

With the selection of styles and stones, 
you're almost guaranteed to find some- 
thing you like. Which, depending on 
how you look at it, can be a very good 
thing or perhaps a little dangerous. 
Either way, you're sure to have fun 
dreaming of the possibilities. g§ 

by Joy Martin 



14 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



Complete \ 
the dream...home 





Envision a home that automatically ^anticipates all of your needs. 
Just before going to bed, you roll c^er and touch the "Good Night 
button, which turns on the motion activated outdoor lights, arms the 
security system, locks the doors and gently fades off all the lights in 
the house. Sitting in your home theater, you lightly press the button 
labeled "Movie" and the shades are drawn, the lights are dimmed, 
the projection system turns on along with the surround-sound/ 
system, and the movie starts. A Vantage system manages all of 
today's technology and provides complete control to every system in 
your house, putting the finishing touches on your dream home. 



VANTAGE 



fvrfX (shoioe, in A 



Kutomation & Lighting Control 



800.555.9891 • www.vantagecontrols.com 




open 




Each month, Vince Cogley 
and Trista Kunce, both staff 
members at Sandhills 
Publishing, share their thoughts 
about a device or two of their 
choice. They may not reach 
common ground on living room 
decor, but they both agree that 
CE helps them live well, just 
sometimes in different ways. 



His. 




After taking my share of history courses in college, I developed a keen affinity 
for the various revolutions littered throughout the centuries. Each one has its 
share of George Washingtons and Benedict Arnolds; the stories of these he- 
roes and villains rivals the tales any storyteller could spin. What I find most invigorating 
about revolutions is the fundamental shift in ideals a society can experience after a rev- 
olution. Competing philosophies collide; a new philosophy emerges; and people march 
along to the beat of this drum. 

So what does Slingmedia's Slingbox ($249.99; www.slingmedia.com) have to do with July 
14, 1789 (bonus points if you can name that date)? In principle, the Slingbox could be the 
start of a revolutionary movement for avid TV watchers. As much as I'd like to tell you to 
rush out and scoop one up, I don't think the Slingbox is quite ready for prime time. 

Just as a TiVo or DVR lets you watch your shows any time you want, the Slingbox al- 
lows you to watch your shows anywhere you want. I'll admit that this ability didn't 
seem as appealing as DVR's capabilities, but then I considered the possibilities. 

Imagine this scenario: You're called away on a business trip the same week of your daugh- 
ter's state soccer tournament. With the Slingbox, you can watch the game highlights on 
your local news from almost anywhere in the country. Personally, the thrill of watching a 
Cubs game on WGN (this station broadcasts several games but doesn't reach a lot of 
markets) while basking in the California sun is a luxury I don't take lightly. 

Slingmedia apparently had the presence of mind to understand that I'd rather avoid 
continuing to pour money into accessories after purchasing them. Unlike services 
such as TiVo or Xbox Live, there are no monthly charges to use the Slingbox, and my 
wallet certainly appreciates that. 

Using broadband Internet access to sling your TV programs across the globe is a logical 
delivery method, but I think it's one of the Slingbox's primary weaknesses. If you're still 
clinging to dial-up Internet access and want to enjoy its re- 
mote viewing capabilities, the Slingbox will be little more than 
a funky-looking hunk of plastic. Likewise, it's equally worthless 
if you don't have a PC with broadband on the receiving end. 

And although my feminine foil who graces the right page rarely 
sees eye to eye with me on most issues, we agree that the 
Slingbox's setup isn't quite as simple to set up as the box seems 
to indicate. I'll concede that configuring the Slingbox itself isn't 
too difficult, but coaxing it to agree with my NETGEAR wireless 
router was a chore. It's definitely not a task for beginners. 

The Slingbox is one of the more innovative products I've seen in 
a while. Even though it's a little ahead of it's time, I wouldn't be 
surprised if we were all slinging in the near future. £S] 

by Vince Cogley 



16 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



8c Hers CE 



open 



If you're addicted to your local cable TV programs, spend a great deal of time 
away from home, and have a laptop with a high-speed Internet connection, then 
you'll love Sling Media's Slingbox ($249; www.slingmedia.com). I, however, am not 
obsessed with programs on my local cable channels and don't spend a lot time out 
of town. OK, so I do compulsively plan my evenings around certain TV programs 
(even, on one occasion, making my husband wait for dinner until "Lost" was over), 
but these shows are on in the evening and recordable with a plain ol' VCR or DVR. 

Even if you plan your life around certain TV shows and don't mind recording the ones 
you miss, the Slingbox is still a cool device because it does something your DVR can't: It 
lets you watch television anywhere you want. So, for example, my sister in Chicago 
doesn't have cable TV; however, she does have a computer with a broadband Internet 
connection. With the Slingbox software downloaded on her PC and the Slingbox hooked 
up to my cable TV at home, I can watch any cable TV shows on her computer when I go 
to visit her. 

Watching an HBO movie on my sister's computer is the easy part, but actually setting up 
the Slingbox to make this possible is surprisingly difficult. The Slingbox looks like a simple, 
user-friendly device, but looks can be deceiving. First off, it's easier to watch if you have a 
high-speed Internet connection (because if you have dial-up, you might have difficulty 
even watching the video) and a UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) router. Frankly, without 
these two things, the Slingbox might as well be a silver, plastic candy bar-like ornament 
sitting on top of your TV. (And who needs a huge, fake candy bar reminding her that she 
needs to follow through with her New Year's resolution to go to the gym?) 

The high-speed Internet connection is an important part of the Slingbox's setup because 
the faster your connection speed, the better the image quality of shows you stream. On 
my broadband connection, streamed images looked pretty good; slightly better than 
downloaded videos you can watch on Web sites. Also, I had to adjust my computer 
monitor's display resolution down in order to avoid blurry-looking images because the 
standard TV resolution (about 640 x 480 pixels) wasn't well- 
matched to my monitor's higher resolution (1,024 x 768). 

As for connecting my router, this was the most difficult part 
of setting up the Slingbox. If you don't have a UPnP router (I 
didn't), setup is time-consuming. UPnP routers make it easier 
for external devices to connect to a network, so without a 
UPnP router, I had to manually set up the router to send in- 
formation from the Slingbox to my computer. 

Besides the challenges I came across while I was setting up the 
Slingbox, I've grown fond of the idea of having my TV shows 
anywhere— even in my kitchen while I'm cooking dinner. £5] 

by Trista Kunce 



X 

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CE Lifestyles / March 2006 17 



open 



Fab Four 



In this new column, we 
get a chance to rave 
about some of the best 
CE products that pass 
through our labs, across 
our desks, and into our 
lives. In each issue we'll se- 
lect four gadgets— one 
digital camera, one AAP3 
player, one cell phone, and 
one "wild card" — and tell 
you why we think they're 
all truly fabulous. 

Some of them will be 
newly released, cutting- 
edge products that have 
impressed us with the way 
they push the envelope; 
others will be dependable 
mainstays that have dis- 
covered a recipe for suc- 
cess and had the good 
sense not to mess with it; 
and every now and then, 
we'll show you something 
truly unusual, a new tech- 
nology, a new use for an 
old technology, or a 
unique combination of 
both. This issue, we intro- 
duce you to a ground- 
breaking camera, an MP3 
player that defies the no- 
tion that jacks-of-all- 
trades are masters of none, 
a phone you can freeze, 
and a set of earphones 
that truly are sublime. 



digital camera 



K«H 


1 9 

1 



DjeuuDO puBp 



Why. This sharp-looking camera, in either 
silver or black, gets props for being the first 
digital camera to offer a 16:9 (true widescreen) 
aspect ratio. Combined with the 8.4MP reso- 
lution, point-and-shoot photographers can 
create striking panoramic images and film- 
quality prints up to 18 x 24 inches. The DMC- 
LX1 records movies at 30fps (frames per 
second) — and you can watch those movies as 
full-screen images on your widescreen TV. 

Small and lightweight, it satisfies true shut- 
terbugs with its high-quality 4X Leica optical 
zoom lens (28 to 112mm wide-angle capa- 
bility). The Extended Optical Zoom feature 
minimizes the image degradation that typi- 
cally occurs when zooming,. 

The DMC LX1 features a 2.5-inch high-resolu- 
tion LCD with a clear display and a Power LCD 
button, which boosts backlighting by about 
40%, a help when shooting on sunny days. 

Bottom Line: Professional-quality prints from 
an attractive, point-and-shoot camera. 



mp3 player 




jeAo|d £duu 



Why: Creative's new 30GB Zen Vision:M 
proves you can take it with you. This large ca- 
pacity micro drive plays MP3s and video, 
stores photos, tunes in to FM radio, functions 
as a PIM (personal information manager), and 
has a voice recorder. Creative estimates the 
drive holds 15,000 songs, 120 hours of video, 
or tens of thousands of pictures. The recharge- 
able Li-Ion battery gives you 14 hours of audio 
and four hours of video playtime. It comes in 
five colors (black, white, light blue, green, and 
pink) and features a 2.5-inch HD color screen. 
The PIM component lets you store and view 
daily tasks, contact lists, and a calendar. It 
syncs with Microsoft Outlook; edit your info 
using Creative Media Explorer software. 

With PlaysForSure support, Creative promises 
you can play any digital music you buy, in- 
cluding files you download from Napster, 
Yahoo! Music Unlimited, and Rhapsody. It also 
supports TiVoToGo. 

Bottom Line: A new, multifaceted heavy- 
hitter in the micro drive market. 



18 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



by Naomi Graychase 



open 




Why: One of the most rugged phones on 
the market, the Nextel i335 bundles a GPS, 
cell phone, and walkie-talkie in a sturdy, 
water-resistant package. Essentially an up- 
grade of the well-respected i315, the i355 
introduces several noted improvements. It 
now features a color screen, a better key- 
board, and a new version of TeleNav GPS 
software, and it supports Nextel's new 
Group Connect and Java-based mobile 
email features. 

Nextel designed this phone with wilderness 
adventurers (and those who work out- 
doors) in mind. Like the i315, the i355 is 
built to take a beating. Although not com- 
pletely submersible, you can carry it in the 
rain with no fear; you can leave it in the car, 
the tent, or at a job site, even if the tem- 
perature drops below freezing; you can 
even throw it on the pavement without 
much concern. 

Bottom Line: This rugged, full-featured 
phone can take whatever you dish out. 



wild card 







pjoo p|jM 



Why: If you care enough about music to 
spend $400 on an iPod (60GB $399; www 
.ipod.com), why dilute the experience with 
mediocre headphones? The Shure E-series of 
sound-isolating earphones is the Mercedes- 
Benz of earphones— only you won't need a 
second mortgage to buy them. The E series 
ranges from the E2c ($99) to the E5c ($499). 

Sound-isolating earphones provide such ex- 
cellent sound quality in part because of their 
pedigree. They were developed so musicians 
could hear their own performances onstage. 
(Elvis Presley was among the artists who used 
a much earlier version of Shure earphones.) 

The E-series uses soft, earplug-like sleeves to fit 
snuggly in your ear. In addition to great music, 
there's a long-term health benefit. Because 
sound isolation brings you fuller sound at a 
lower volume, you won't have to blast your 
eardrums to tune out sounds on the street. 

Bottom Line: Comfortable, durable, profes- 
sional-quality music to your ears. 



The Camera: 
Panasonic 
Lumix DMC LX1 

$599.95 

www.panasonic.com 



The MP3 Player: 
Creative Zen 
Vision:M 

$329.99 

www.creative.com 



The Phone 
Nextel i355 

$239.99 

www.sprint.com 



The Wild Card: 
Shure E-series 
earphones 

$99 to 



$499 



www.shure.com 



CE Lifestyles / March 2006 19 



Best Budget 
MP3 Players 

Grab One & Hit The Road 



hanks to hard drive- 
based AAP3 players, 
you can toss the CD 
rack and carry your 
entire music collection — 
if you're willing to put a 
$300 to $400 device in 
your pocket, that is. Al- 
though these players have 
large displays and phe- 
nomenal storage capaci- 
ties, some audiophiles are 
turning to smaller devices 



that carry fewer songs and smaller 
price tags. 

Many of these players use flash memory 
instead of hard drives. Unlike hard 
drives, which have multiple compo- 
nents, flash memory has no moving 
parts. These players won't skip when 
jostled, which means you can drive or 
jog without interrupting your tunes. 
They're also light: Many flash-based 
MP3 players are lighter than (and some 
are smaller than) your mobile phone. 



Shop Smart 

You'll miss out on some important fea- 
tures (and you might even acquire a few 
that you don't want) if you focus solely on 
capacity and a player's bling factor. Some 
players, for example, include an FM radio. 
If you're a jogger, this is an important fea- 
ture: You can check weather reports 
when you're out on the trail. Audiophiles 
will want to keep an eye out for players 
that have adjustable EQ settings and de- 
cent volume. Some players can drown out 



iriverTIO 1GB 



$199.99 



www. lnveramenca. com 



Storage capacity: 1GB 

Size: 3.4 x 1.6 x 1.2 inches* 

Battery life: 45 hours 

Audio file support: MP3, OGG, WMA 

Cool features: FM radio, button lock, color 

display 

Summary: A sporty, tough little player 

*HxWxD 




Gone are the days of special software that shuffled music from your computer to the 
iriver. Windows Media Player recognizes the T10 as soon as you plug the included 

USB cable into your PC, which means you can use WMP's slick 

Sync feature to pick out and transfer songs. 

Speaking of USB, a sturdy rubber cap plugs the USB port and 
protects it from dust when you take the player for a run. Other 
jogger-friendly features include a breathable armband and a 
button lock that prevents the player from skipping songs when 
you drop it in your pocket. Unlike most player armbands, the 
T10's strap includes a special case that faces the player toward 
you when you lift your arm. 

The sporty player also has an FM tuner. A Record feature lets you tape radio and store it 
on the player. The T10 supports MP3, OGG (Ogg Vorbis), and WMA digital music for- 
mats and has several EQ presets. Users can also adjust the EQ settings manually via the 
Settings menu and then choose the User EQ preset to enjoy the custom EQ. And thanks 
to color screen, you can view pictures (in the BMP file format) while you listen. 

The T10 offers great sound quality and plenty of volume. You won't have any trouble 
shutting out the rest of the world when you plug in the comfortable earbuds. To top 
things off, the T10 users a single AA battery to provide about 45 hours of playtime. 



20 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



the sounds of the highway, while others 
simply lack audio oomph. 

Accessories can also make or break a 
player purchase. If you stick to better- 
known brands, you'll find more third- 
party accessories that fit your lifestyle. 
Once you've found the perfect device, 
check local or online stores for armbands, 
belt clips, or equipment that will let you 
play songs over your car's speakers. Many 
players include only a lanyard. 

Users who plan to take the player on long 
trips will want to make sure it uses an ap- 
propriate battery. Players that have a 
built-in, rechargeable battery won't make 
great travel partners for people traveling 
to other countries. (You'd need to lug 
around outlet adapters for other regions.) 
Many small players use easy-to-find bat- 
teries, such as AA batteries. 

You'll also want to make sure your 
player is compatible with your music 



service. Apple's iTunes service, which 
lets users buy individual songs for 99 
cents, supports only Apple's iPod line, 
including the iPod nano and shuffle 
(and PCs). The service uses copy pro- 
tection to prevent the tunes from 
playing on third-party players. 

Many new players (including Creative's 
Zen Micro, iriver's 1GB T10, and Sam- 
sung's YP-F1) have Microsoft's Plays- 
ForSure logo, which helps audio enthu- 
siasts match players to music services. 
If you're not an Apple fan, visit the 
PlaysForSure program's site (www 
.playsforsure.com) and then click Find 
Devices at the top of the screen. The 
site lists dozens of devices and lets you 
search by price. Finding a music service 
is just as easy: The site lists several 
types of services, including online 
stores that sell individual songs and 
services that offer subscriptions. 
PlaysForSure encompasses well-known 
services, such as MusicMatch and 



Napster, as well as more obscure 
stores, such as PassAlong. 

Of course, Web sites and online re- 
tailers don't let you try out players be- 
fore you buy, so we did the footwork 
for you. We rounded up four of the 
best players on the market with price 
tags under $200. 

Music To Your Ears 

Sure, there are plenty of portable music 
devices out there that can also display 
pictures or even movies, but what these 
players lack in outrageous toys they 
make up for with sensible features you'll 
use day in and day out. All of these 
players are easy to use and store at least 
1GB of song files, which is plenty of 
music for day-to-day listening. And all of 
them support MP3, which is one of the 
most common audio types. 313 

by Joshua Gulick 



Creative Zen Micro 



$199.99 



www.creative.com 




Storage capacity: 5 GB 

Size: 3.3 x 2 x 0.7 inches* 
Battery life: 12 hours 
Audio file support: MP3, WAV, WMA 
Cool features: Enormous storage capacity, 
tons of radio presets 

Summary: A slick, inexpensive, hard drive- 
based player. 
*HxWxD 



Flash memory-based players make great jogging and workout companions, but they 
can't store massive music collections (yet). If you're searching for a player that will get 
you through a long trip, check out Creative's Zen Micro. The 
hard drive-based Micro is available in 4GB, 5GB, and 6GB sizes 
and a range of colors, including blue, green, orange, and red. 

The Micro's sleek body rivals Apple's standard-setting iPod in the 
style department. A thin, lit border surrounds a spacious screen and 
a well-designed touchpad that lets users quickly browse music, ad- 
just the volume, or change settings. Should you tire of your mere 
5GB music collection, you can turn to the built-in FM radio for 
some fresh tunes. The radio features 32 customizable presets. 

In Removable Disk Mode, the drive cordons off between 128MB and 2GB of 
storage space that appears as an empty drive in your PC's My Computer window. 
You can drag and drop data files into this area and then unload then onto any 
other computer. 

The Micro is larger than its flash-based counterparts (it's about the size of a deck of 
cards), but the extra capacity and the removable, rechargeable battery make up for 
its bulk. Creative tosses earphones, software, a USB cord, and a bag for the player into 
the box. 



CELifestyles / March 2006 21 



Samsung YP-F1 



One of Samsung's smallest digital music players, the YP-F1 won't attract attention 
when you take it on the road. However, it will catch your attention as soon as you 
power it on. The player offers crisp sounds and has plenty of 
volume, and it stores up to 1GB of your favorite tunes. Samsung 
offers 256MB ($99), 512MB ($129), and 1GB ($179) models of the 
portable player. 



$179 

www. Samsung, com 



Despite the YP-F1's tiny screen, it displays plenty of information 

about your music. The middle line displays the song's name (it 

scrolls to accommodate song titles that are longer than the 

width of the screen), as well as the file type. The display also of- 

fers information about remaining battery power and elapsed 

song time. Navigating the player's menus is a little tricky at first, 

but once we got the hang of it, we were able to flip between digital music and the FM 

tuner without any trouble. The player can record FM radio and has a customizable 

EQ, as well as EQ presets. You can also enable the Bass Booster feature when you 

listen to songs in Classic, Jazz, Rock, and Normal EQ settings. The WOW menu lets 

you further adjust sound settings. 

As with iriver's T10, the YP-F1 supports Windows Media Player's syncing options. 
Simply install the player's drivers, add songs to Media Player's Sync playlist, and then 
click the Sync button. The YP-F1 has a built-in belt clip and also includes a lanyard 
and a custom USB cable. 




Storage capacity: 1 GB 

Size: 2.5 x 1.14 x 0.6 inches* 

Battery life: 10 hours 

Audio file support: OGG, MP3, WAV, 

WMA 

Cool features: Built-in belt clip and easy 

syncing 

Summary: It isn't flashy, but it has plenty of 

features 

*HxWxD 



Sony Walkman Core NW-E507 

With the N W-E507, Sony solves the dilemma we've all faced at one time or another: 

You grab your player and head toward the door, only to discover that the battery is 

dead and that you'll need to charge it for hours. This device has 

Sony's Super Quick Battery Charge, which lets it play for as long 

as three hours on a mere three-minute charge. If you can't afford 

even three minutes, you probably need an organizer more than 

an MP3 player, anyway. 

The slim, iPod shuffle-like player has two important features that 
the shuffle lacks: an easy-to-use FM radio and a display. The tiny 
display tracks song names and battery power and lets users navi- 
gate albums and titles. Unlike most players, which have easy-to- 
spot screens, you won't see the display until you turn on the 
player. The device sports play and volume buttons, as well as a ring that twists to ad- 
vance tracks. 

You can't sync WMA files to the NW-E507 via Windows Media Player. If your digital 
music collection is in MP3 or Sony's ATRAC3 format, you won't have any trouble 
syncing them via the included SonicStage software. The program transfers only un- 
protected WMA files, which means the player can't receive many WMA tunes. The 
NW-E507 package includes a belt clip and a coupon for five downloads from the 
Connect online music service. 



$159.95 
www.sonystyle.com 



■ 




X 


1. 




^^ 


^v. 


"^^^5 [^* ^^ 





Storage capacity: 1 GB 

Size: 3.33x1.13x0.54 inches* 
Battery life: 50 hours 
Audio file support: ATRAC3, ATRAC3- 
plus, MP3, and WAV and unprotected 
WMA when converted to ATRAC format 
Cool features: Super-fast charging 
Summary: Small, flashy player 
*HxWxD 



22 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



Business at home never 
sounded so good. 

The new iHome iH5™ makes your iPod® 
earbucl free, So you can talk on the phone. 
Tackle paperwork. And hold meetings 
in your home office against a backdrop 
of incredibly rich, natural stereo sound 
from our iH5 Reson8™ speakers. 

The iH5 has a digital AM/FM clock radio 
that will, should you snooze at work, wake 

you to the sounds of your iPod! And i 
does all this while charging your iPod, 
so it's ready to go when you are. 




iHome is home base. 




iHome* 

www.ihomedirect.com 



□ 

© 


Made for 

iPod 

J 



a 



a 



□ 






For all docking iPods® 
including Nano! 



iHome is a trademark of 5DI Technologies Inc. 

iPod is a registered trademark owned by Apple Computer Inc. 
in the U.S. and in other countries. 

* except iPod" shuffle. iPod not included. 



iHome iH5 

To order, visit 
vsrww.ihomedirect.com 

Or call toll free 

1.800.925.6224 

30 day risk-free trial! 



HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 

' iLounge.com | All Things iPod 



Jacked Up 

Untangle The Mess Of Inputs Behind 
Your A/V Equipment 



s you watch the profes- 
sional installer wall- 
mount your beautiful 
new flat-panel LCD TV, 
you're amazed by how 
simple the process seems. Imbued with 
a sense of rugged individualism, you de- 
cide to get your hands dirty and set up 
an HTB (home theater in a box) without 
outside assistance. 

Suddenly, what had seemed like a simple 
weekend DIY project has become a 
ghastly nightmare of cords and jacks 
that leave you scratching your head in 
frustration. What does a digital audio 
cable look like, and how is it different 



from an analog audio cable? Why are 
there a plethora of video inputs, and 
is it really worth splurging on a pre- 
mium video cable? We'll help you un- 
tangle composite from component 
and other types of A/V cables and put 
names to jacks and inputs you are 
likely to encounter. 

The Cast Of Characters 

Analog and digital audio are the two 
major types of cables. Analog audio is a 
far more affordable option (especially 
stereo audio), but if your A/V equip- 
ment supports digital audio, it's the 
road to pure aural bliss. 



You should find at least one of each of 
the following inputs on your brand 
new TV: composite, S-Video, and com- 
ponent. If you have HDTV and use a 
converter box, you will need to run 
component cables from the box to 
your TV to properly view high-defini- 
tion programming. In contrast, com- 
posite video is the least expensive way 
to watch standard TV and your VHS 
tapes and DVDs. 

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia 
Interface) is in a class by itself because it 
supports uncompressed HD video and 
8-channel HD audio signals, all piped 
through a single cable. 



DIGITAL AUDIO 




WHAT IT REALLY MEANS 



WHAT IT DOES 

Maintains a pure 
digital signal from 
an audio source 
to a receiver for 
the best possible 
audio quality. 



A digital audio connection requires only one cable 
and requires no digital-to-analog conversion. A single 
digital audio cable is capable of carrying every discrete 
channel. A coaxial digital audio jack uses a cable that 
looks like a stereo audio cable. An optical digital audio 
jack has its own unique look, and optical cables don't 
suffer from EM (electromagnetic) and RF (radio fre- 
quency) interference. 



COMPONENT VIDEO 



>r/Cr Pb/Cb Y 






WHAT IT DOES 

Further divides 
the video signal 
to provide the 
best possible 
analog video 
connection. 



r WHAT IT REALLY MEANS 



Somewhere on your TV, you should see three component 
jacks labeled Y, Pb, and Pr (possibly Y, Cb, and Cr). 
Essentially, this means each corresponding cable delivers a 
separate color (red, green, and blue) to a video device. This 
method makes component video superior to composite 
and S-Video and dramatically improves color purity and de- 
tail while reducing color noise (a disturbance that interferes 
with the signal transmission and reduces its quality). 



24 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



S-VIDEO 




r 



WHAT IT DOES 

Improves picture 
quality by sepa- 
rating parts of 
video signal. 



WHAT IT REALLY MEANS 

Although it still uses a single cable, S-Video divides a 
signal into chrominance (color information) and lumi- 
nance (brightness). By separating these values, an S-Video 
cable and jack prevent color bleeding in an image. The re- 
suit is a picture that is clearer and sharper than a com- 
posite-video image. 



HDMI 




r 



WHAT IT DOES 

Digitally sends 
both audio and 
video to appro- 
priate devices. 



WHAT IT REALLY MEANS 

HDMI is at the forefront of consumer electronics tech- 
nology. Because it is an all-digital interface, you won't lose 
any video or audio quality from a digital source. These ca- 
bles are perfect for HDTV because they can carry a high- 
definition program's digital picture and surround sound. 
The downside is that these cables are expensive. 



STEREO AUDIO 



l r 




WHAT IT DOES 

Delivers 

2-channel audio 
from a source 
such as a VCR, 
CD player, or 
DVD player. 



r 



WHAT IT REALLY MEANS 



Stereo audio (also called composite audio) has two discrete 
channels, meaning a left and right speaker produce dif- 
ferent sounds. Because stereo audio is analog, digital audio 
content such as a DVD's sound goes through a digital-to- 
analog conversion, and you lose quality in the transition. 



5.1 AUDIO 



03 [Q;i 



r 






WHAT IT DOES 

A significant step 
up from stereo 
audio, 5.1 audio 
provides discrete 
channels for five 
speakers and a 
subwoofer. 



r WHAT IT REALLY MEANS 



You'll need at least 5.1 audio for true surround sound. 
The cords and jacks will look identical to stereo audio, 
but there are jacks for the following channels: front left, 
front right, rear left, rear right, center, and subwoofer. 5.1 
Audio is also an analog connection. 



COMPOSITE VIDEO 




WHAT IT DOES 

Sends a video 
signal from a 
video source to a 
display or pro- 
jector using a 
jack that looks 
like a composite 
audio jack. 



WHAT IT REALLY MEANS 



You can identify composite video cables by their yellow 
ends. Composite video cables don't separate a video sig- 
nal's color information from its brightness, but they re- 
quire a digital-to-analog conversion for digital video 
content; for those reasons, composite video is cheapest, 
yet lowest quality option. 



What may seem like a minefield of jacks that's impossible to 
navigate and bundles of cords that leave you confused is really 
an advantage. Because older A/V jacks are still present on new 
equipment, putting the pieces of your home theater puzzle to- 
gether is achievable on any budget. 3=3 

BY VlNCE COGLEY 



CE Lifestyles / March 2006 25 



The TV Guide, Part 

Making It Come Together 



ast month, we displayed 
TV technologies in part one 
of "The TV Guide." Now that 
you have a general under- 
standing of the types of 
TVs you'll encounter on 
your pursuit for the per- 
feet centerpiece 
in your home the- 
ater, you're ready 
for a game plan as 
you prepare for 
the challenge of actually making the 
all-important purchase. 

But the process of buying a new TV can 
be just as complicated as understanding 
key differences between plasma and 
LCD flat-panel TVs. Once you clear up 



some of the confusion associated with 
one of the biggest CE purchases you'll 
ever make for your home, shopping for 
the perfect TV will be an exhilarating 
and enlightening experience. 

What's In Store In The Store 

So you've decided an RPTV (rear pro- 
jection TV) suits you more than a flat 
panel; that's only half the battle. When 
you make your maiden voyage to the 
TV department of an electronics re- 
tailer, don't commit to a specific model 
until you've considered every angle. 

If possible, observe each TV under 
every broadcast format— 480i, 480p, 
720p, and 1080i. Standard television is 




480i; DVDs (with a progressive-scan 
capable player) show 480p; and HDTV 
currently comes in 720p and 1080i fla- 
vors (with 1080p on the distant 
horizon). Stores select their own pro- 
gramming to display on TVs, but don't 
be afraid to ask for a demonstration of 
content you choose. 

Big-screen TVs are monumentally big 
but they're even bigger in their boxes. 
Getting such a large item from point A 
(the store) to point B (your home) is no 
easy task, so unless you have a large SUV 
that won't jostle the TV in transit, factor 
in the best option for home delivery. 
Having your TV delivered takes the lia- 
bility out of your hands. 

And once your package arrives at point 
B, setting it up single-handedly can be 
virtually impossible; make sure you have 
someone strong and skillful to help. In 
fact, certain setups such as a wall- 
mounted, 50-inch plasma TV are a task 
for a professional installer. Find out 
what a store charges for installation, and 
if the installation fee includes perks such 
as adjusting your TV's settings for the 
best possible picture. 

Shop Online 

Before you buy from an online retailer, 
we recommend trying to see any TV 
you're interested in at a brick-and- 
mortar store first. Online recommenda- 
tions can be helpful, but you can't judge 
a TV without seeing it. 

If you encounter a deal online that's 
hundreds of dollars too good to be true, 
consider two factors. First, shipping 



1 



What That Tag Means 

When you're lost in a jungle of HDTVs and there isn't a sales 
associate in sight, you can still turn to a particular TV's 
price tag for helpful information. Unfortunately, a lot of this tech- 
nical information might as well be in a foreign language. Once you 
understand the jargon, comparison shopping is much easier. 

Wid0SCr00ri: This refers to a screen's aspect ratio. See 
"The Dirty Dozen" sidebar for more information. 

Digital Cable Ready: This particular TV has a built- 
in tuner to receive HDTV without a separate set-top box. 



Built-in HD DVR, 160GB: An HD DVR has a larger 
storage capacity than a regular DVR. 160GB translates 
to about 20 hours of HD programming. 

Memory Card Slot: Shutterbugs who like to share 
their digital photos will appreciate TVs with built-in 
memory card slots. If a TV has a slot that matches the 
memory card your digicam uses, you can create a stun- 
ning photo slideshow on the big screen. 

1 ,366 X 768 Resolution: A TV's resolution indicates 
the number of pixels it has. This particular HDTV has 
1,049,088 pixels. TVs with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution 
can display 1080i and 1080p without scaling the image. 

NTSC/ATSC Tuner: An NTSC tuner receives standard 
television programming and an ATSC receives high- 
definition programming without a set-top box. 

2 HDMI (HDCP) Inputs: HDMI is the gold standard 
for A/V cables. See "The Dirty Dozen" sidebar for more 
information. HDCP stands for high-bandwidth digital 
content protection — a method for transmitting and re- 
ceiving digitally-protected content. 

Component Video Input: It's inferior to digital in- 
puts, but component video is superior to both S-Video 
and composite video. Component cables break a video 
signal down into three color signals for a terrific picture. 
Buy component cables if you don't want to invest in 
HDMI yet. 

2 S-VideO InpUtS: A step up from composite 
video, S-Video separates a video signal's color 
information from its brightness, resulting in a clearer, 
sharper picture. 



50" w/descreen 

D'9'tal Cable Ready 
Plasma HDTV 



W/ctescreen 



Digital Cab/e Ready 

Bui'Mn HD DVR, I6QGB 

Memory Card S/ot 

1366 ^768 Resolution 
NTSC/ATSC Tuner 

2HDM/(HDCP), nputs 

Component Video /nput 
2 s ~ Video Inputs 

As/owas$l29/monfhI0.9o/ oAPR/4 , 
^year Service Plan: $299 99 ^^ 

Wall mount available 



As low as $129/month 10.9% APR/48 months: 

National consumer electronics retailers should offer financing 
to make expensive TVs more affordable over a period of time. 
Stores such as Best Buy and Circuit City only offer this fi- 
nancing if you sign up for a store credit card (although Circuit 
City's card doubles as a Visa credit card). Weigh the merits of 
adding another credit card to your pocketbook. 

4-year Service Plan: $299.99: Service plans or extended 
warranties are consumer electronics retailers' bread and butter 
because they are typically high profit margin items. If you are 
considering buying such a plan, ask if it covers frequently- 
replaced parts, such as an LCD RPTV's bulb. Then ask again. 

Wall mount available: You'll see this option available on 
flat-panel plasma and LCD TVs. See the "Extra Credit" 
sidebar for more information on wall mounts. 



CELifestyles / March 2006 27 



Extra Credit 

Your checking ac- 
count may shriek as 
you transition from 
HDTV buyer to HDTV 
owner, but you can 
quickly add to the 
bottom line by pur- 
chasing premium acces- 
sories. Some, such as a 
stand, entertainment 
center, or wall mount, 
are virtually mandatory, 
but others aren't as vital. 
These accessories will 
put the icing on your 
high-definition cake. 

CRT RPTVs and a 
limited number of mi- 
crodisplays are free- 
standing; normally 
you'll need something 
to bring other TVs up 
to eye level. Some 
stands, such as Sony's 
SU-GW12 ($499.99) 
are designed specifically 
to enhance the style of 
select models from the 
company's line. Elegant 
entertainment centers 
such as Martin 
Furniture's Kathy 
Ireland Home (www 
. martinfurniture . com) 
collections can easily 
cost as much as the TV 
itself. Expect to pay 
$300 to $500 for a 
decent stand. 

To turn a flat-panel 
TV into an elegant work 
of art on your wall, 
you'll need a wall 
mount. Some wall 
mounts are compatible 
with a specific model, 
but universal wall 
mounts should work 




with any flat-panel TV 
that conforms to the 
mount's screen size and 
weight specifications. 
Prices generally range 
between $100 and $500. 

Although manufac- 
turers should provide 
you with a basic set of 
A/V cables to connect 
your TV to a particular 
component, they're not 
as generous with high- 
end cables. For the best 
possible picture, use an 
HDMI (see "The Dirty 
Dozen" sidebar) cable. 
You'll pay for the quality: 
A 2m piece of Monster 
Cable's Ml 000DAV 
(www. monstercable 
.com) costs $250. By 
contrast, Belkin's Blue 
Series S-Video cables 
(www.belkin.com) are a 
step up from standard 
composite video and 
start at $18.99. 

You know the value 
of a surge protector if a 
power surge has ever 
turned one of your 
components into a 
singed pile of circuitry. 



Although many manu- 
facturers will claim their 
surge protectors can im- 
prove picture quality, a 
high-quality surge pro- 
tector's main purpose is 
keeping your expensive 
A/V safe from poten- 
tially dangerous power 
surges. Simple surge 
protectors cost less 
than $10, but if you're 
serious about powering 
your equipment, 
Monster Cable's 
HTS7000 is a 
hefty $1,299.95. 

Hiring a professional 
installer isn't a manda- 
tory expense, but it will 
save you time and elimi- 
nate the stress of setting 
everything up yourself. 
For example, our local 
Circuit City offered an 
installation package that 
would wall-mount our 
flat-panel TV, connect 
it to a 5.1 surround 
sound system, DVD 
player, and DVR, and 
conceal the wiring for 
$699 (price includes 
wall-mount kit). 



charges for items as large as a big screen 
TV can easily offset any savings you 
might get by buying online. Also, it 
doesn't hurt to take a cautious ap- 
proach toward retailers without phys- 
ical stores to match their online 
presences. There are several online re- 
tailers who resort to high-pressure tac- 
tics in an effort to add overpriced 
accessories to your order. 

Make A List, 
Check It Twice 

As much as we wish we could trust our 
memories, there's simply too much cru- 
cial information about a gaggle of po- 
tential HDTVs to remember. Having 
organized notes can save time and pre- 
vent you from the faux pas of pur- 
chasing a TV without a feature you were 
certain it had. 

Making a checklist is a simple yet effec- 
tive method to keep track of the bene- 
fits and drawbacks of each TV. Include 
categories such as type, broadcast for- 
mats supported, inputs, screen size, 
and additional features. Saving space 
on the checklist for comments lets you 
include your own observations, which 
are what's really important. Using an 
individual note card for every TV that 
catches your eye is another tactic; keep 
the cards tidy by putting them in an in- 
vitation-sized envelope or bound to- 
gether with a rubber band. 

Everyone Loves 
A Happy Ending 

Thinking of buying a new HDTV as a 
marathon instead of a sprint will lead 
you to making the best possible pur- 
chase. It's certainly an intimidating 
process, but once you understand the 
basics and know what to look for, finding 
your match becomes much easier, gg 

BY VlNCE COGLEY 



28 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



The Dirty Dozen: 

1 2 TV Terms You Must Know 

When you begin your quest for a new TV, don't let a smarmy sales rep bombard you with technology 
terms in an attempt to railroad you into a purchase. It may seem daunting at first, but having a 
working knowledge of these terms can make you an informed buyer before you set foot in a store. 



Aspect ratio. A screen's aspect ratio 
is the measure of its width compared 
to its height. HD programming uses 
a native 16:9 ratio, so widescreen 
TVs with a 16:9 aspect ratio display 
HD content without letterboxing 
(black bars that appear above and 
below an image on a standard, 
nearly square TV) . 



Contrast ratio. A measure of the dif- 
ference between a display's darkest 
black and its lightest white, contrast 
ratio can indicate whether a TV's 
blacks should be appropriately la- 
beled dark gray. Contrast ratios are 
most helpful comparing two TVs of 
the same technology, such as an 
LCD with another LCD. 



EDTV (Enhanced Definition 
Television). EDTV is not an in- 
expensive means to a high-defini- 
tion picture. EDTVs, while 
superior to SDTV (Standard 
Definition Television), only sup- 
port 480p (progressive-scan) and 
can't display HD. 



HDMI (High-Definition 
Multimedia Interface). Supports an 
uncompressed, all-digital A/V inter- 
face. If you use a set-top box to re- 
ceive HD programming, you'll lose 
some quality using component video 
cables because they convert a digital 
signal to analog, but an HDMI 
cable maintains a pure digital-to- 
digital connection. 



HD Ready. Be aware that although 
the ability to display 720p classifies a 
TV as an HDTV, HD-ready TVs re- 
quire extra hardware such as a set-top 
box to receive HD programming. 






HDTV (High-Definition 
Television). Because there are a 
number of specifications that fall 
under the umbrella of high-defini- 
tion, HDTV is a little trickier. The 
threshold for true HDTV is at least 
720p (1,280 x 720 pixel resolution 
in progressive-scan) and often in- 
cludes digital surround sound. 
720p and 1080i are the most 
common standards. 



Interlaced. This method of dis- 
playing an image tricks your eyes 
into seeing a full image every l/30th 
of a second. Interlaced signals ac- 
complish this illusion by alternating 
between drawing the even- and odd- 
numbered lines of an image every 
l/60th of a second. This can result 
in flicker and a poorer image than 
progressive-scan. The "i" in 10801 
indicates the signal is interlaced. 



dij 



Pixel orbiter. Screen burn-in is a 
weakness on plasma TVs, so compa- 
nies have sought ways to minimize or 
eliminate this. A pixel orbiter shifts an 
image in a manner imperceptible to 
the naked eye. By preventing a plasma 
TV's pixels from displaying a static 
image too long, a pixel orbit greatly 
reduces the likelihood of burn-in. 



Progressive-scan. This draws every 
line of an image at the same time in 
l/60th of a second. Progressive-scan 
doesn't produce the same flicker as in- 
terlacing an image. Your eyes will see 
the difference in a sharper, brighter 
picture. The "p" in 720p or 1080p in- 
dicates the signal is progressive-scan. 



Rainbow effect. DLP TVs rely on a 
color wheel to produce an on-screen 
image as an RGB (red, green, blue) 
combination. Other technologies 
display RGB simultaneously, but 
DLP TVs display each color individ- 
ually. Most people don't notice the 
shift, but some will notice that color 
artifacts appear to leave rainbow 
streaks. The rainbow effect can 
range from entirely unnoticeable to 
frequently annoying. 



Screen-door effect. This problem is 
most prevalent on projection LCD 
TVs. A small border surrounds an 
LCD's pixels, and the eye can occa- 
sionally detect these borders, so it 
looks like you're watching an image 
through a screen door. 



Viewing angle. Imagine you and 
your friends sitting in a semicircle 
around a TV. A greater viewing 
angle means viewers at extreme an- 
gles will see roughly the same quality 
image as viewers positioned directly 
in front of the TV; conversely, a 
lesser angle means the images and 
colors blur at the edges. 



CELifestyles / March 2006 29 



Can You Repair 
Your CDs & DVDs? 

Scratches Possibly, Cracks No 







rnaxell 



maxel' 

EJ\/P 




f your flicks start to flicker or 

your jams tend to jump, you 

may have a damaged DVD or 

CD on your hands. The shiny 

underside of a CD/DVD can 

contain digital music, movies, 

or software. A CD/DVD 

player or drive uses laser light 

to read the contents of the 

disc. If there are scratches or 

grime on the disc, these can 

block the laser for a moment, 

causing the music or movie 

to skip. If there's software on the disc, 

it probably won't work because the 

drive will think that some of the files 

are incomplete. 

Cleaning 

Fortunately, a dirty disc is easy to fix. 
Using a soft, clean cloth, wipe the shiny 
side of the disc with an outward motion 
from the center hole to the outer edge, 
as if you were cleaning the spokes of a 
bicycle wheel. It might help to breathe a 
little water vapor on the disc before you 
wipe it. 

Never rub or brush a disc sideways or in 
a circular motion. The reason is that 
even a soft cloth will leave tiny scratches, 
and a player can more easily ignore ones 
that cross the reading laser's path than 
those that run along it. 

CD/DVD players can develop playback 
problems, too. Some older players skip 
when they're not sitting mostly flat, so 
level yours up with some playing cards 
under its corners if it's obviously tilted. 



You can use a handyman's bubble level if 
you're, shall we say, a Type A personality. 

Also, dust can settle on the laser lens, 
preventing the player from reading 
discs properly. Fortunately, special 
cleaning discs, such as 3M's Scotch AV- 
101 Laser Lens Cleaner ($6.99; solu 
tions.3m.com) and Memorex's CD/ 
DVD-Player Laser-Lens Cleaner ($9.99; 
www.memorex.com), don't cost much. 
Buy one, pop it into your player for a 
few moments, and then try your skip- 
ping disc again to see whether the 
playback improves. 

Repair 

If a light wiping doesn't fix the problem, 
you could try a disc repair product. 
Many come with liquids, sprays, and/or 
cleaning or buffing wipes, such as 
Maxell's DVD Repair Kit ($12.99; www 
.maxell-usa.com). 

Some sprays simply clean a disc's sur- 
face. Others are supposed to fill in the 
grooves of minor scratches, theoretically 
making it easier for the laser to shine 
through them. 

Still other fluids, such as the Wipe Out 
line ($9.99 to $17.99; www.cdrepair 
.com), contain abrasives. Abrasives can 
polish out deep scratches or, rather, 
smooth their edges and reduce the sur- 
rounding surface enough to let the disc 
play again. CDs and DVDs have plastic 
coatings over their shiny recording 
layers, so you don't have to worry 
about damaging the data unless you re- 
ally go overboard with the polishing. 

If your disc is scratched enough to 
make abrasive polishing sound good, 
consider a battery-powered device 
such as Aleratec's DVD/CD Disc Repair 
Plus ($39.99; www.aleratec.com) for a 
more uniform surface than you'd get 
by rubbing with a cloth. Hand-turned 
polishers, such as 3M's Scotch AV- 
1160DVD DVD Disc Cleaner & Repair 






' 



Maxell's Slim Cases ($7.99 for 20; www.maxell-usa.com) can protect your discs, and its DVD 
Repair Kit ($12.99) can let you rub out minor scratches. 



Kit ($14.99), are usually less expensive. 
Devices such as these may cost more 
than a new DVD, but most of them 
come with enough fluid and abrasive 
wheels to fix 10 or more discs. 

Some polishing devices leave visible 
swirl marks on a disc. In rare cases, 
these marks might actually make play- 
back worse in older CD/DVD players, 
but the discs should work fine in more 
recent equipment. You should always 
replace or clean your polisher's abra- 
sive surfaces as recommended. 

Careful Copying 

Some discs play OK in one device, such 
as your computer's CD/DVD drive, but 
are a little too scratchy for your old 
stereo equipment. If the disc is a CD, 
you might try using software such as 
Nero ($79.99 and up; www.nero.com) 
or Roxio ($79.95 and up; www.roxio 
.com) to copy the disc to a shiny new 
CD-R that may play better in an older 
player. You might also rip the CD's 
songs to your computer's hard drive, 



as this process occasionally corrects 
some skips and pops caused by 
scratches over the original tracks. As 
you copy the CD or convert it to music 
files, set the software to its slowest 
read setting (such as 4X) and its most 
thorough encoding setting. 

Movie DVDs generally have copy pre- 
vention technology on them at Holly- 
wood's insistence, so you can't legally 
back up your discs nor rip them to try 
and correct errors. Your only recourse is 
to try a CD/DVD repair product or buy 
a new DVD. 

Great Expectations 

Prepare yourself for the fact that you 
simply can't fix some discs. Broken, 
cracked, or deeply scratched CDs and 
DVDs are usually beyond salvage. And a 
cracked disc can fly apart inside a drive 
or player . . . and then you'll need an- 
other repair article entirely. S=3 

by Marty Sems 



CELifestyles / March 2006 31 







Home-Theater 
Furniture 



Furniture plays a huge role in how well your 
home-theater speakers sound. Bulky or well- 
stuffed furniture, though comfortable, will 
muffle and absorb a ton of sound, especially 
when it comes to low bass and high treble 
tones. Conversely, hardwood or plastic furni- 
ture isn't the most comfortable, and it can 
cause noticeable reverberation. This type of fur- 
niture has a tendency to brighten sound and 
make it abrasive enough to take the paint off of 
your walls. 



The Art Of Tweaking 
Speakers 



Think of tweaking your speakers as more of 
an art than a science. To get your system 
sounding its best, adjust settings from their 
defaults. However, before you go hog wild 
searching for the best sound, grab a pen and 
paper and jot down the default settings in 
case you get to a point where you don't like 
the sound but can't seem to get it back to 
the way it was before. 



Read The 
Manual First 



Spend time with the users manual for your 
speakers. It will give you quick tips on how to 
diffuse potentially hairy situations such as un- 
packing your speakers. (After all, a good set of 
speakers can cost thousands of dollars, so it 
would be a shame to damage them before 
they could even sound their first notes.) The 
manual should give you points on proper 
speaker placement in your theater, as well as 
great ideas on speaker maintenance, so that 
you can get the longest life possible out of 
your woofers and tweeters. 



Test Before You Buy 



If you're in the market for home-theater 
speakers, thoroughly test them before you buy. 
Take a favorite CD or DVD with you to play on 
a few systems. Sound quality is one of the most 
important features in a home-theater system, 
so search for a song/movie clip that lets you 
test the low, mid, and high tones that a 
speaker system can produce. 



Be Wary Of 
Metal Hollows 



If your metal home-theater rack let's you route 
A/V cables through a hollow section, be cau- 
tious. Your setup will look better, but some- 
times when metal displays are cast or welded, 
burrs are left that can cut your wires (not to 
mention your fingers). Split loom tubing is a 
cheap alternative that will still make your dis- 
play look sharp while keeping your wires safe. 
As the name implies, this tubing has a split 
down the center. It's handy because wires can 
enter or exit the tubing at any point. You can 
fix it to your entertainment center to keep it 
and your wires well-hidden. Split loom tubing 
comes in a variety of diameters, so you 
shouldn't have trouble finding one that can 
satisfy your wiring needs. 




by Sam Evans 



32 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 




Let the music find * 



4 



Anywhere in your home, indoors or out, there can be music. Or sports. Or news. 
A Russound multiroom audio system is affordable, easy to use and easy to DO. 

It's the kind of home improvement that brings you pleasure every day. 
Just ask your Russound design specialist for a solution that meets your needs and budget. 



All you need to know is Russound. 




"INE 



RNET is a proprietary platform that allows 

Russound components to communicate with each other. 



Founded in 1967, Russound is a global leader in A/V solutions that set 
the standard for performance and ease of use. ©2005 Russound, Inc. 

www.russound.com I tel 800.638.8055 



URussound 




Technology & Kids 

Parenting The Google Generation 




n 1994, an editor at a family computing magazine in 
Massachusetts came home from work one day and 
found his towheaded 3-year-old daughter, Minta, 
sitting at her family's computer. She was perched on an 
ergonomic office chain her little legs kicking the air ab- 
sentmindedly. Her back was to her father, and when he 
said, "Hi, Minta! I'm home. What Ye you doing?" She 
slowly spun her chair around to face him and said, 
quite matter-of-factly, "Building a civilization." 



Minta was playing SimCity, a popular 
computer game created by Maxis 
(www.maxis.com) and distributed by 
Broderbund (www.broderbund.com) 
in 1989. In it, players built and man- 
aged their own civilizations from the 
ground up. It was intended for much 
older children and adults, but Minta, 
as with many of the children in her 



generation, took to the computer like 
a duck to water. While her parents had 
been excited about Pogo Sticks, Big 
Wheels, and Lincoln Logs as kids, 
Minta, like many of her peers in the 
early 1990s, could operate a VCR, a 
remote control, and a PC running 
Windows 3.1, before she had even en- 
tered kindergarten. 



That 70s Childhood 

The children and teens of the 1970s 
and 1980s were the first to encounter 
VCRs, personal computers, and video 
games, and those advancements were 
new and exciting additions to a world 
that still involved rotary dial phones, 
TVs that received only three channels, 
typewriters, and homes primarily filled 
with traditional toys such as Legos, 
board games, and yo-yos. 

It has been their children (and younger 
siblings) who have grown up in a world 
where high technology is ubiquitous. 
Today's middle and high schoolers are 
accustomed to instant messaging, in- 
teractive video games, and navigating 
Web-based content delivered to them 
at high speeds. The notion that one 
would have to be tethered to a phone 
by its curly-Q cord— or even stay in- 
side a home to speak on the phone— is 
as unthinkable as the notion that one 



34 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 




would have to leaf through a musty 
card catalog in order to find the title 
of a book. 

CE Balancing Act 

The advent of personal computers and 
other technologies has dramatically 
changed the way children live and 
learn in our culture. Children such as 
Minta have benefited from the ability 
to use their creative powers for more 
than just backyard play — they can ac- 
tually envision and build an empire on 
their computers, if they choose. 

But for parents, the question of how to 
integrate important technologies into 
learning at home, while also keeping 
kids safe, healthy, and able to form ac- 
tive imaginations and meaningful so- 
cial relationships, is difficult. Knowing 
which brands and products to trust 
and how (and to what extent) to in- 
corporate them at home, presents 
a serious challenge. But, as children 
of the Google generation know, infor- 
mation is power. So, to help parents 
capitalize on their kids' tech-savvy 
childhoods, we've gathered some of 
the best CE devices for kids and fami- 
lies that the market has to offer. S13 

By Naomi Graychase 



Then & Now 

You can trace the roots of most of the high-tech toys, games, and learning 
tools we buy for kids today back to inventions that were part of our (or our 
parents') youths. Here we connect the lineage of a few of today's most popular 
gadgets, games, and concepts to their counterparts from another era: 



Old School 

Sesame Street 

ViewMaster 

Pong 

Star Wars action figures 

Comic books 

Cordless phone 

Sony Cassette Walkman 

Cable TV 

Magnetic alphabet 

Trapper Keeper 

Travel Parcheesi 



Tin can with string 
Library card 
Cardboard box the fridge came in 



Record albums 
Hi-fi 
Baby monitor 
Super 8 film 



New Cool Equivalent 



Sesame Beginnings DVDs 



GameBoy 



Xbox 360 



Star Wars action figu 



DVD movie versions 



Cellular Phone 



Apple iPod 



Leapster Learning Game System 



Palm Pilot 



Personal DVD player 



Text messaging 



Cardboard box with cow spots 



MP3 file 



CYBER-sitter 



Sony DVD Handycam 




CE For Kids 



Favorite Brands 



Experts are still struggling to come 
to a clear conclusion about 
whether there is any benefit (or pos- 
sibly any harm) to introducing elec- 
tronic media to babies, toddlers, and 
preschoolers. In 1999 the American 
Academy of Pediatrics recommended 
no screen time at all (that includes TV) 
for babies younger than 2 years old. 
The Kaiser Family Foundation released 
a report in December 2005 that indi- 
cates that there is almost no research 



to support the idea that electronic 
media has any educational value for 
children under the age of 5. Parents, 
however, seem to disagree. Since the 
late 1990s, there has been a deluge of 
CE products intended to give young 
children a head start on formal educa- 
tion, and despite warnings from pedia- 
tricians and educators, the market is 
thriving, which means parents and 
grandparents are buying. Among the 
strongest sellers are tried and true 



brands such as Fisher-Price, which 
even offers online games including 
electronic peek-a-boo for babies, as 
well as relative newcomers to the field 
of early learning toys such as Vtech, 
which offers many award-winning elec- 
tronic educational toys for children 
from preschool to high school. Here, 
we recommend some popular brands 
and products for children of all ages, 
with a reminder that for small chil- 
dren, screen time should be limited. • 



Sesame Beginnings DVDs ($12.90; www.sesamework 
shop.org), created by Sesame Workshop and distributed 
by Sony Wonder (www.sonywonder.com) in stores in 
late March 2006. 



LeapFrog LittleTouch LeapPad Learning System 
($39.99; www.leapfrog.com). 



Preschoolers: 



V.Smile TV Learning System from Vtech ($59.99; 
www.vtech.com). 



Elementary school: 



Vtech Nitro Notebook ($49.99; www.vetch.com). 



Middle school: 



FLYPentop Computer ($99.99; www.flypentop.com) 
or iQuest Handheld ($49.99; www.leapfrog.com). 



High school: 



Palm Zire 72 handheld ($249; www.palm.com/us). 




36 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



CE For Kids 



Consumer Electronics 
Age Guidelines 



Children are individuals; of course, with their own 
unique personalities, preferences, and quirks. 
Developmentally speaking, however, there is much 
more consistency among children — with some variation being 
perfectly normal — regarding what types of items are appro- 
priate for their needs at a given age. 



And so it goes with electronics. Here's a concise rundown 
of guidelines that parents might want to consider when they 
or their children use CE devices, along with a few age- 
appropriate suggestions. H3 

by Brian Hodge 



Infant/Toddler 



Although there is a growing elec- 
tronics-for-babies industry, it doesn't 
make much sense to buy gadgets for a 
tiny person who will be just as delighted 
with the box. As they leave the crib, little 
ones will naturally be curious about 
things such as remote controls — and you 
should let them experiment with harm- 
less items under supervision — but devel- 
opment experts generally agree that very 
young children are better off with sturdy 
items that stimulate them with shapes, 
colors, textures, etc. At this age, elec- 
tronics are better suited for parental use. 

Recommended: 

Bebe Sounds' Angelcare Movement 

Sensor With Sound Monitor And 2 

Parents' Units ($99.99; www.bebe 

sounds.com). 

This motion sensor monitors your 

baby's sleep and alerts you if she's gone 

absolutely still for 20 seconds. 

Dex Products Sound Sleeper 
($19.99; www.dexproducts.com) 
This plays a variety of sounds — 
including those of the womb — to block 
external noise and soothe babies to sleep. 
Pediatricians stress that babies need to 
learn to sleep unaided, so this shouldn't 
be used all the time, only when sleep is a 
real priority, and you need a little help. 



Grade-schooler 



At this age kids enjoy much more 
autonomy, although supervision should 
still be the rule, especially when they're 
poking around complex or expensive 
devices, such as the connections on 
your multichannel home-theater re- 
ceiver. Age-appropriate items can be 
fun and educational, teaching playful 
competition, hand-eye coordination, 
and strategy. 

Recommended: 
■Sfc Hasbro 

VIDEONOWXP 

Personal Video 

Player ($49.99; 

www.hasbro.com) 

This portable unit 
plays over 100 PVDs (Personal Video 
Discs, a proprietary 
disc format; titles 
$5.99 and up) and 
has controls for inter- 
active features, games, 
and more. 







•Sfc LeapFrog FLY Pentop Computer 
($99.99; www.flypentop.com) 
This fat, computerized ballpoint 

has dozens of fun and educational 

uses. Visit the Web site for a superb 

interactive demo. 



Teenager 



By now, most kids have the dexterity 
and sense of responsibility to operate 
items such as digital cameras and cam- 
corders without you constantly hov- 
ering over their shoulders. Socialization 
is in full swing, hand-eye coordination 
is being refined, and long-term interests 
and skills are emerging, so anything 
that promotes these is a good bet. 

Recommended: 

* Apple iPod nano ($199 and $249; 

www.apple.com) 

According to a November 2005 
study by the CEA (Consumer 
Electronics Association), portable MP3 
players are the top-ranked CE item that 
teenagers crave. 

Kodak EasyShare V530 Zoom 

Digital Camera ($299.95; 

www.kodak.com) 

Digicams rank high with teens, too, 
and this stylish compact also excels at 
shooting short movies. 




CELifestyles / March 2006 37 



CE For Kids 



Consumer Electronics 
& Your Baby 
(& Toddler, Too!) 

Switch On A Little Parenting Help 




Becoming a parent puts your life 
through some big changes. In 
r fact, parenthood's more blunt- 
spoken representatives may tell you 
that it whisks away any semblance of 
the life you knew and replaces it with 
another life altogether. Not that that's 
necessarily a bad thing! 

It doesn't help, though, when parent- 
hood becomes a predominantly iso- 
lating experience. Some loss of social 
contact is inevitable, and the 
new rewards usually more 
than compensate for that. 
But when your new responsi- 
bilities become a genuine 
barrier between you and your 
friends, the rest of your 
family, and even your partner 
. . . well, you can feel that 
things are out of balance, and 
it's only natural that you 
want to restore some of your 
old equilibrium. 

Let's look at some gadgets 

that can help you bridge that 

divide, or make life a little 

easier on everyone, whether you're 

simply getting through the day or want 

to preserve part of it for posterity. 

CE Phone Home 

The telephone isn't just the world's most 
omnipresent CE device, it's also a lifeline 



38 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



CE For Kids 



in an emergency or if you need a few min- 
utes of conversation to keep in touch 
with someone you don't see often. 

Cell phone. If you're usually on-the-go, a 
mobile phone is mandatory these days. 
Ideally, you'll have something that's 
cleanly designed and simple to use when 
you don't want distractions but still puts 
several handy tools at your disposal. 
That may include a built-in camera, 
whose impromptu snapshots can keep a 
working parent or adoring grandparents 
connected to your child's day even 
though many miles may lie in between. 

Although your options will depend on 
your carrier, we love the features and de- 
sign of LG Electronics' PM225 camera 
phone for Sprint ($219.99, free with new 
service plan; us.lge.com). It has a speaker- 
phone setting, mobile Web capability, a 
personal organizer/calendar, voice acti- 
vated dialing, and two LCDs — one being 
a small external display with caller ID. 

For your landline. Around the house, 
many people don't rely on cell phones — 
especially if their service plan has a 
monthly minute limit — but rather, cord- 
less handsets. They're portable, sure, but 
they can tie up one hand or give you neck 
pains from wedging the phone between 
your ear and shoulder. 

A headset will solve both problems, as- 
suming your handset has a headset jack. 
We find that calls come through loud 
and clear with Panasonic's KX-TCA92 
($29.95; www.panasonic.com), which 
features a folding headband, cushioned 
earpiece, and an adjustable mic boom. 

Digital Camera 

A cell phone camera is handy for spur-of- 
the-moment shots, but few people con- 
sider it a real camera: one that delivers 
high-quality keepers suitable for framing. 

Digital SLRs lead the pack in creative con- 
trol, but they're bulky and can require 



Lugging It All 
Around 

Leaving home with an infant 
means carrying around lots of 
stuff. But loading up with a purse, 
diaper bag, camera case, and more 
can leave you feeling more like a 
pack mule than a parent. Instead, 
consolidate everything in a roomy, 
compartmented, and fashionable 
tote bag. 

Posh By Tori (www.poshby 
tori.com) offers a line of diaper/ 
travel bags starting at $129, 
featuring holders for bottles and 
your cell phone, interior and 
exterior pockets, and 850-cubic 
inch interiors. 

Then there is Timbuk2's 
(www.timbuk2.com) colorful 
Cargo Tote line. These start at 
$50 and come in four sizes (from 
743 to 3,067 cubic inches), each 
with a waterproof vinyl liner, 
bottle holder, and interior and 
exterior pockets. • 



extra time and attention to use properly. 
Boasting convenience, as well as quality, a 
good compact digicam will perform just 
as well for all but the artiest inspirations. 

Each camera manufacturer has an ex- 
tensive line of compacts, so it's a buy- 
er's market. Still, we don't hesitate to 
recommend Canon's PowerShot A610 
($349.99; consumer.usa.canon.com) as 
a superb camera for everyday use; it has 
numerous modes and presets for 
point-and-shoot ease. Its 5MP resolu- 
tion will deliver frame-worthy prints, 
its 4X zoom lens covers a lot of dis- 
tance for a compact, and its shape 
gives you something to hang onto 
when you need one hand free. 

Cameras immortalize moments, but cam- 
corders capture events: the determined 



progress of your child's first steps, the 
breakthrough when babble becomes 
words, the flying cake at a 2-year-old's 
birthday party. 

We've always been impressed with JVC's 
combination of quality and value. Its 
Everio GZ-MG20 camcorder ($699.99; 
www.jvc.com) adds innovation to that 
list. Forget about fussing with tapes or 
discs — this records widescreen DVD- 
quality video to a built-in 20GB hard 
drive, yet it's compact and light, weighing 
just 13.4 ounces even with the battery at- 
tached. You can edit directly on the drive 
itself, transfer video to a computer with a 
USB 2.0 cable, and a floating suspension 
system protects the drive from shocks, so 
it's a forward-thinking purchase. 

Mobile GPS System 

If you do much family traveling, you 
know the value of minimizing hassles en 
route . . . staying the course and not get- 
ting lost, especially when you have a 
squalling toddler in the backseat carrier. 

An automobile GPS navigator will keep 
your journey on track and let everybody 
save face. Check out Garmin's Street- 
Pilot i3 ($428.56; www.garmin.com). It 
mounts to your vehicle's dashboard with 
a suction cup, and you can input your 
destination for turn-by-turn directions 
throughout North America, find points 
of interest along the way, and so on. 

iPod 

The iPod ($299 30GB, $399 60GB; www 
.apple.com/ipod) is a parent's little 
helper? With the fifth and most recent 
generation, the iPod's transformation 
into a well-rounded audio-visual device is 
complete. The ability to display full-color 
snapshots, introduced in the 4G photo 
iPod, is standard on all full-size players, 
along with video playback capability. 

That makes the latest iPod an amazingly 
compact image library that you can 



CELifestyles / March 2006 39 



CE For Kids 



stuff with hundreds of photos and 
home videos and then view and share 
anywhere. Although digital video clips 
need to be properly formatted, you can 
easily handle the conversion with 
Apple's QuickTime 7 Pro software 
($29.99). 

Oh yeah — whenever the rigors of child- 
rearing leave you in need of a relaxing 
break or an energizing pick-me-up, the 
iPod still plays music, too. 

Baby Monitor 

Most parents feel much more at ease 
when they can stay attuned to their 
baby even when they're not in the 
nursery. Summer Infant Baby's Quiet 
Sounds Video Monitor Set ($169.99; 
www.summerinfant.com) is a complete 
monitoring system that lets you keep an 
eye and/or ear on your baby at all times, 
even in the dark. 

Software 

That makes plenty of hardware. What 
about programs for the one piece of 



The 

New Parents 

Survival Kit 

These are the gadgets you'll prob- 
ably find most indispensable: 

Camera phone 

• Phone headset 
r Digital camera 

TjC Camcorder 

7|C Financial software 

* Roomy tote bag 




Panasonic KX-TCA92 • $29.95 • www.panasonic.com 



hardware you probably 
already have — your PC? 



Organizational. Because 
Microsoft has such a lock 
on productivity software, 
you may already use its 
Office Suite ($399 Stan- 
dard Edition; www.micro 
soft.com), in which case 
Outlook (PC) or Entour- 
age (Mac) is probably 
your email program of 
choice. For many people, 
email and the address 
book are as far as they dig 
into these programs. If 
that sounds like you, you're ignoring 
their powerful, flexible calendars that 
will help you schedule appointments by 
the day, week, or month. 

Financial. Money matters are often 
cited as the No. 1 cause of arguments 
between couples . . . and whatever you 
can do to avoid arguments will benefit 
you and your children. Financial soft- 
ware won't generate extra income, but 
can certainly help you better handle 
what you have. 



Financial 

software 

won't 

generate extra 

income, but 

can certainly 

help you 

better handle 

what you 

have. 



We like Intuit's Quicken 
family ($29.99 and up; 
www.intuit.com), which 
lets you manage checking, 
savings, and credit ac- 
counts; pay bills; plan for 
college expenses; track re- 
tirement accounts; ana- 
lyze where your money 
goes; and much more. 
Getting the most from 
Quicken takes learning 
time, but it's enormously 
helpful to summon an up- 
to-date overview of your 
finances, as well as precise 
information, whenever 



you need it. 



Time For Reinforcements 

Since time immemorial, parents have 
been raising children without the ben- 
efit of electronics. Then again, for most 
of that history, the pace of life was 
much slower. These days, you can never 
have too much help, even if batteries 
are required. 3=3 

by Brian Hodge 



40 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



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CE For Kids 



CE For Grade-schoolers 

How Should You Introduce Your Kids To Electronics? 




When used properly, com- 
puters and other electronic 
devices serve as great educa- 
tional and entertainment devices for 
kids. However, grade-schoolers lack the 
maturity to select for themselves prod- 
ucts with educational value or to self- 
monitor their use of those devices. 

So, it's up to Mom and Dad to make 
those decisions and enforce rules of use. 
And if you're like many parents, you'll 
have more questions than answers when 
deciding which products will give your 
kids the most value for the price. To help 
you we asked elementary teachers for 
their advice on good products and how 
to guide kids in using these devices. 

Back To The Basics 

Every so often, we hear news of a study 
that supports the obvious: Reading to 
your kids is beneficial, for instance. But did 
you ever think how something so basic as 
reading to children can help them get the 
most out of electronic devices? 

Stella Perry, a fourth grade teacher at 
Broad Street School in Bridgeton, N.J., 
knows from her experience as an edu- 
cator, mother, and grandmother that 
kids who are read to from an early age 
typically understand how to use educa- 
tional products faster than other kids. 
"Even toddlers who may not be able to 
verbalize what they know still under- 
stand a lot," says Perry. Perry believes 
such children more quickly understand 
the audio instructions built into elec- 
tronic toys, and she recommends that 
you treat the product as you would a 
book: Sit down and share the experience 



42 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



CE For Kids 



with your child. If you take the time to 
demonstrate the fundamentals of a toy 
or game, you'll be amazed at how quickly 
children will catch on. 

Fool them with fun. When choosing 
products for her children, grandchil- 
dren, and students, Perry follows one 
rule without exception: no violence. She 
shuns games and products that include 
any amount of violence. 

Jack Sibert, the computer instructor at 
Cavett Elementary School in Lincoln, 
Neb., agrees. Sibert recommends that 
parents who have grade-schoolers avoid 
buying their children console game sys- 
tems, handheld gaming systems, or sim- 
ilar products that contain violence. 

Instead, look for educational toys and 
games that help your children learn and 
sharpen their reading, math, science, 
health, geography, and critical thinking 
skills. Perry says good educational games 
and computer programs are those dis- 
guised as fun (see the "Educational 
Products" sidebar), so don't be surprised 
if your kids beg to play a game, go to a 
Web site, or use their toy notebooks 
every day. Sibert says to look for games, 
devices, and software that "build on 
learning," as opposed to items that have a 
"once through, and I'm done" approach. 

Both Perry and Sibert recommend Leap- 
Frog games and educational toys, such as 
the LeapPad line of learning systems 
($34.99 and up; www.leapfrog.com), 
which teach and reinforce basic skills in 
reading, writing, math, history, and sci- 
ence. Kids insert a book and cartridge in 
the LeapPad and then use the "magic 
pen" to touch and listen to interactive 
pages. Book and cartridge sets start at 
$14.99 and incorporate popular charac- 
ters such as Spider-Man, The Incredibles, 
and Shrek. The cover of the book set indi- 
cates which LeapPad the set works with. 

Sibert also says parents can trust 
computer programs they buy from 



Educational Products 



The following companies have 
earned a solid reputation for their 
quality educational products: 



Educational Insights 



www.edin.com 

Hot Dots Reading Comprehension 
sets ($14.99; grades 2 to 6) contain 50 
stories each. Kids answer questions 
using the Hot Dots Power Pen 
($9.99). Younger kids can learn to 
read analog and digital time displays 
with the Learn All Day Clock 
($79.99), a real working clock on 
which you can change the time to test 
your child's understanding. 



LeapFrog 



www.leapfrog.com 

In addition to four LeapPad sys- 
tems, LeapFrog sells age-appropriate 
items such as Leap's Phonics Library 
($19.99; ages 3 and up), Turbo 
Extreme ($34.99; ages 6 to 8); and 
Mind Mania Spelling ($14.99; ages 7 
and up) . 



Learning Journey 



www.tlji.com 

Once you see the bright, colorful 
designs on the Spell & Write Pencil 
Box ($29.99; 3 and up), the talking 



Knowledge Adventure (www.knowl 
edgeadventure.com), Edmark (www.kids 
click/edmark), The Learning Company 
(www.learningcompany.com), and 
Broderbund (www.broderbund.com), 
the latter two owned by Riverdeep. 

Involve the family. One of the biggest 
drawbacks to CE products, even educa- 
tional items geared for kids, is that they 
can isolate the user. There's nothing 
wrong with kids having "alone time" with 
a good book or game, but locking them- 
selves in their rooms to play computer 



Pig E Bank ($14.99; 3 and up), the 
bilingual PC Schoolhouse laptop 
($49.99; 3 and up), and the Desktop 
PC ($49.99; ages 5 and up), you'll 
understand why Learning Journey 
products have won many awards 
and recommendations from parents 
and educators. 



VTech Kids 



www.vtechkids.com 

The new V. Smile TV Learning 
System ($59.99; ages 3 to 7) can 
transform the boob tube into brain 
food. This gaming system teaches kids 
lessons in reading, science, and math 
while they play games that come in 
"Smartridges." Connect the V.Smile 
Art Studio ($29.99; ages 5 and up) to 
the learning system, so your budding 
artist can draw on the palette-shaped 
drawing pad and view his artwork on 
the TV screen. The portable V.Smile 
Pocket ($89.99) plays Smartridges 
and can connect to a TV. 

For older kids, the DeskPro 
($69.99; ages 7 and up) and Touch 
Tablet ($99.99; ages 8 and up) 
give them learning time on com- 
puters packed with interactive edu- 
cational games. • 



games all afternoon, day after day, isn't in 
their best interests. 

Perry advises keeping the computer 
your kids use in the family room, so you 
can keep an eye on how they use it (and 
how often). This will help you monitor 
content, as well as time. 

Keeping the PC and other CE devices out 
in the open also encourages the family to 
play together. Older siblings, for instance, 
can help teach younger kids how to use a 
program or listen to them read a story 



CELifestyles / March 2006 43 



CE For Kids 



on a LeapPad. Once you buy the system, 
you can build a library of books. Not only 
do LeapPad products grow with children, 
but they also can be passed down and 
used by younger siblings. 

Perry and her husband, John Perry, en- 
courage collaboration among children of 
different ages at their school, too. John is 
the technology specialist and instructor 
of computing at Broad Street School. 
Sometimes students in Stella's fourth- 
grade class help first graders learn a pro- 
gram in John's computing class; the 
older students, Stella Perry says, have just 
as much fun as the younger ones. 

Limit use of handheld games. In Decem- 
ber 2005, to commemorate its 20th 



Safe, Online 
Learning 

Your child's elementary school 
may incorporate online learning 
into its students' curriculum. If so, 
check with the school's computer in- 
structor or visit the school's Web site 
for recommendations. For instance, 
Cavett Elementary's Jack Sibert di- 
rected us to his school's Web site 
(cavett.lps.org), which lists links to 
many good educational online spots. 
Your kids also can play and learn 
safely at these trusted Web sites. 



* 
* 
* 
* 

* 



MathCafe.com 

www.mathcafe.com 

Nick Jr. 

www.nickjr.com 

PBS Kids 

www.pbskids.org 

Sesame Street 

www.sesameworkshop.org 
/sesamestreet 

Starfall 

www.starfall.com 




anniversary, Nintendo released a limited- 
edition Game Boy. As popular as Game 
Boys are, educators suggest you limit the 
use of those and other handheld games. 

"I'm not a believer in handheld games," 
Stella Perry says, "except for use in the 
car." Rather than let your kids spend 
hours on relatively mindless entertain- 
ment like that, it's far better to read with 
them or play board games, she suggests. 

Look for bargains. Make the most of the 
devices, games, and software you buy 
for your kids. Buying a PC or notebook 
may be cost prohibitive, and make sure 
any games or devices are age-range ap- 
propriate, so they don't immediately 
outgrow them. On a broadcast of NPR's 
"All Things Considered" last November, 
New York Times technology writer 
David Pogue said that sales of educa- 
tional software are only 33% of what 
they were just five years ago. Taking 
their place are educational and gaming 
consoles, such as the go-anywhere 
LeapPad. Consequently, some of the ed- 
ucational software for PCs may be avail- 
able at substantial discounts. 

Perry suggests you use the Freecycle Web 
site (www.freecycle.org). This site lets you 



search for items that others in your area 
may not need anymore or find people 
who want what you no longer need. 
Freecycle and yard/garage sales are good 
sources for software, too. Although chil- 
dren's software isn't as popular as it once 
was, that doesn't mean you should avoid 
PC programs altogether. 

John Perry still uses the Living Book 
Series, programs formerly published by 
Broderbund that help younger students 
read classic stories and books on PCs. 

Your children need your guidance, rules, 
and assistance as they learn from their 
educational electronic devices. Exercise 
your authority, but remember that kids 
are a little more sophisticated in this 
area than you might think. Sibert says 
that children "have a curiosity and ease 
in using computers. They [are growing 
up] with computers and are not afraid 
to experiment and try new things." 

When possible, let your children cultivate 
that curiosity with appropriate CE prod- 
ucts. But remember, Sibert says, even the 
best CE devices are a means, not an end, 
to a good education. S§ 

by Rachel Derowitsch 



44 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



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CE For Kids 



CE & The Tween Years 

Tweens Are A Marketer's Dream 




Kids are great consumers. Man- 
ufacturers know it. Advertisers 
know it. And your wallet prob- 
ably knows it, too. 

The 20 million or so American tweens, 
generally defined as kids aged 8 to 12, 
spend a lot and influence even more 
buying decisions. "They are very brand 
aware and have strong opinions about 
those brands," says Paul Metz, vice 
president of C&R Research Services 
in Chicago, which operates the self- 
reporting Web survey site KidzEyes.com 
for kids aged 6 to 12. "They influence a 
ton of spending, and they know how to 
ask for things," Metz says. 

Tweens might not have driver's licenses 
or jobs, but they have plenty of clout, 
both with marketers and their parents. 

Kids With Clout 

Unlike most preschoolers and early 
grade-schoolers, tweens care very much 
about what their peers think. This 
means they won't always settle for 
products that their parents select for 
them. They want to fit in, and that 
means having the right brands, often 
endorsed by their favorite stars: Hilary 
Duff, Jesse McCartney, and Raven 
Symone, to name a few. 

At the same time, tweens do have some 
of their own money to spend. The 2005 
Roper Youth Report, from marketing re- 
search firm GfK NOP (www.gfkam erica 
.com), shows that tweens and teens on 
average earn more than $29 a week. The 
360 Youth Web site (www.360youth 
.com) estimates that tweens spend $51 



46 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



CE For Kids 



billion annually, funds they receive as 
gifts or allowance. 

Whether kids are given money or earn it 
through chores or baby-sitting, the 20 
million or so tweens in America have 
some income and no significant financial 
obligations (except for the handful of kids 
whose parents require them to con- 
tribute for extras). That puts them in the 
perfect spot to spend their money and in- 
fluence many of their parents' purchases. 

Parents turn to their kids for advice on 
anything from picking a cell phone car- 
rier to choosing an Internet provider. 
According to the Youth Report, 30% of 
kids aged 8 to 17 say they are involved in 
making buying decisions for the family. 

"Tweens are experimenters and are fea- 
ture crazy" when it comes to CE prod- 
ucts, Metz explains. "They have the idle 
time to check out all the features" of a 
product, such as a cell phone. (See the 
"What Tweens Want" sidebar.) 

Tweens and young teens are at a perfect 
nagging stage, too. A poll commissioned 
by the Center For A New American 
Dream (www.newdream.org) found that 
of kids aged 12 to 17, the 12- and 13-year- 
olds are the most likely to keep nagging 
their parents for products they want. 

Products With Appeal 

Given all their influence and spending 
power, it's only natural that tweens are 
starting to command a niche market in 
the CE field. The following types of de- 
vices are especially appealing to them. 

Cell phones. Older tweens are far more 
likely to use cell phones than their 
younger counterparts. Metz says that 
his firm's research shows cell phone 
ownership grows as kids in this group 
get older. Among kids 8 to 10, only 9% 
have a cell phone. That number jumps 
to 23% for 11 -year-olds, and climbs to 
32% for 12-year-olds. 



Understandably, cell phones that are 
specifically made for tweens are mar- 
keted to appeal to the parents. Parents 
who want their kids, especially younger 
tweens, to have a cell phone do so as a 
way of keeping tabs on their children's 
whereabouts. For the sake of safety, 
manufacturers are rolling out phones 
that parents can program to limit in- 
coming and outgoing calls. 

The Firefly phone from Firefly Mobile 
($99.99; www.fireflymobile.com), for in- 
stance, is designed for kids 12 and 
younger. Instead of a full key pad, the 
Firefly has only five keys, two of which 
can be programmed to give a child 
speed-dial access to her mom and dad. 
Parents can program as many as 22 out- 
going phone numbers and can set the 
phone to receive calls only from those 
pre-programmed numbers. 

Service for the Firefly is available on the 
Cingular Wireless (www.cingular.com) 
FamilyTalk plan for an additional $9.99 a 
month. Or you can prepay minutes for 
the Firefly through the Firefly Mobile 
Web site at 25 cents a minute. 

Another mobile phone option for 
tweens is the Enfora TicTalk ($99; 
www.mytictalk.com). It looks a bit like a 
handheld gaming unit and functions like 
a walkie-talkie because it lacks a tradi- 
tional keypad. Parents control all com- 
munication settings through the TicTalk 
Web site, including whom the child can 
place calls to and receive calls from. You 
also can text message your child 
through the site. You'll find five Leap- 
Frog learning games on the phone. 

Pay-as-you-go rates for the TicTalk 
begin at $25 for 100 minutes. 

MP3 players. We've mentioned that 
tweens are brand-conscious. Nowhere is 
that more true than with MP3 players, 
where the brand of choice is the Apple 
iPod (www.apple.com/ipod). "Kids have 
told us that they would be embarrassed 



to show up at school with anything but 
an iPod," Metz says. "That brand is the 
only feature they want in an MP3 player." 

The 512MB iPod shuffle ($99) can hold 
120 songs and runs on a 12-hour 
rechargeable battery. Your tweens may 
beg for an iPod that holds more songs. If 
so, you could opt for the 1GB shuffle 
($129) or go with the 2GB iPod nano 
($199). Or you could respond as a friend 



Rules To Play By 

Keep the computers that 
your tweens use in a public 
area of the house, such as the 
family room or kitchen. Use the 
parental controls included in your 
browser to limit their online access. 

2 Teach your tweens that use 
of their CE devices, espe- 
cially for playing games, must be 
earned. Allow gaming only when 
they have finished their homework 
and met their other obligations. 

3 Discuss with your tween the 
list of accepted people with 
whom she can communicate via her 
cell phone, including text messaging. 

4 Make sure your tween un- 
derstands his cell phone's 
service plan and knows who is re- 
sponsible for paying extra charges 
he incurs. 

5 Make sure your tween's 
■ friends know your "house 
rules" regarding the use of com- 
puters, cell phones, gaming devices, 
etc. and make sure you know the 
house rules when your daughter 
visits her friends' homes. When your 
child spends time at another family's 
home, instruct her that your rules, if 
more stringent, still apply. 



CELifestyles / March 2006 47 



CE For Kids 



What Tweens 
Want 

Researcher Paul Metz says that 
games are the hottest feature 
on CE devices for tweens. But 
these kids are also crazy about 
instant messaging — "it's the new 
version of passing notes," Metz 
jokes. These two features appeal to 
what this age group likes to do the 
most: Have fun and keep in touch 
with friends. 

In addition, because tweens 
value their growing independence 
and individuality, they love the 
ability to customize devices so they 
reflect their interests and personali- 
ties, whether changing the faceplate 
of a cell phone or downloading 
new ringtones. 

Tweens also love devices they 
can upgrade, which appeals to their 
desire to keep up with their peers. 
Finally, older tweens gravitate to- 
ward devices that are adult-looking, 
especially phones and MP3 players, 
Metz says. • 



did when his tween daughter requested 
a larger iPod: "How many songs do you 
even know?" 

If iPods are out of your price range, then 
there are other options, especially for 
younger tweens. MGA Entertainment 
makes the Bratz Plugged In Liptunes 
AAP3 player ($79.99; www.mgae.com), a 
256MB player shaped like a tube of lip- 
stick. It comes with earbuds, attach- 
ments for the arm and belt, a USB cable, 
and music management software. 

Disney sells digital Mix Sticks ($49.99; 
disneyshopping.go.com) in Princess and 
Mickey Mouse motifs. The 128MB sticks 
can be expanded up to 1GB with an 
SD/MMC card and play both down- 
loaded music and Disney Mix Clips, 
which are sold separately. 



Media players. When your minivan or 
SUV becomes a second home to your 
kids, they may be ideal candidates for 
products that can keep them content in 
the back seat, such as DVD and multi- 
media players. 

Samsung designed its Hand Held Mini 
DVD Player ($149.99; www. Samsung 
.com) for kids under the age of 15. It 
has a 2.5-inch screen, plays 3-inch mini 
DVDs, and gives 2.5 hours of playback 
on Ni-MH (nickel metal hydride) bat- 
teries, which are included. It also 
comes with a DC power jack and head- 
phone jack. 



Mustek's line of multimedia players ap- 
peals to older tweens because they sport 
a more mature look. Products include the 
3.6-inch PL736 ($159; www.mustek.com) 
and the 10-inch, widescreen-format 
PL510T ($349). Both units let kids view 
digital pictures and play CDs; in addition, 
they have rechargeable battery packs and 
AC adapters. These items are pricier but 
will grow with your tweens into their teen 
years and beyond. 

The Perfect Tween Device 

Metz says his firm's annual wish list 
survey shows that more tweens have 




Both the Mattel Juice Box ($69.99; 
www.juicebox.com) and the VUGO from 
Hasbro's Tiger Electronics ($119.99; 
www.hasbro.com) are designed with pre- 
teens in mind. The Juice Box runs on 
three AAA batteries, plays content on 
Juiceware cartridges, and has an optional 
MP3 adapter. Kids can download 
episodes of popular Cartoon Network 
and Nickelodeon programs from the 
VUGO Web site (www.vugo.com) or use 
their viewer to play music and display pic- 
tures on the 3-inch screen. The 128MB 
VUGO's memory can be expanded with a 
memory card, and the unit runs on four 
AAA batteries, which are not included. 



digital cameras than any other CE de- 
vice, though cell phones and MP3 
players are growing in popularity. 

Especially hot among tweens are cell 
phones with built-in cameras. "For this 
age group, perhaps the perfect trifecta 
of devices is a cell phone with a built-in 
camera and MP3 player," he says, be- 
cause these devices appeal to their cre- 
ative self-expression. 

Don't be surprised if your tween soon 
begs for one. S=3 

by Rachel Derowitsch 



48 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



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CE For Kids 



The Tech Generation 

Cool Gadgets & The Teens Who Love Them 




Forget Generations X and Y. We're 
done with the alphabet soup seg- 
mentation and have moved on to 
Generation Tech — those tech-savvy 
teens whose lives are filled with elec- 
tronic devices. These early adopters pull 
a lot of weight with manufacturers; re- 
tailers and, more importantly, family 
and friends. While many will spend their 
own money from allowances and part- 
time jobs on these devices, they're also 
likely to put in requests (at various 
times and with varying degrees of 
drama) to their parents. When met, it's 
often in the form of gifts for special oc- 
casions such as birthdays, graduations, 
and holidays. 

Stay Tuned 

Music has always been a teenage staple, 
so it's no surprise that MP3 players were 
at the top of teens' wish lists this past 
holiday season. Although he has a 
portable CD player, 15-year-old Colin 
Dragon said that he'd like an MP3 player 
because "they're fun, you can listen to 
music anywhere, and you don't have to 
carry around CDs." Well, he got his wish 
in the form of an iRiver T10 ($199; 
www.iriveramerica.com), as well as a gift 
card to Napster to fill up the MP3 play- 
er's 1GB of storage space. 

Some teens, such as 16-year-old Moira 
Rose Barry, already have MP3 players — 
Moira Rose's is a pink iPod mini, which 
she received two years ago as a gradua- 
tion gift and uses "all the time." [Apple 
discontinued the iPod mini in Sep- 
tember 2005, but you can find other 
iPods starting at $99; www.apple.com.] 
A field hockey player, Moira Rose 



50 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



CE For Kids 



The Money Tree 

Although the final figures 
weren't available at press time, 
it looks like teens spent about $159 
billion of their — and your — hard 
earned dollars in 2005. The money 
shelled out by teens has actually de- 
creased since 2003, according to 
TRU (Teen Research Unlimited), a 
market research company based in 
Northbrook, 111., but nearly half of 
the teens polled say they'll spend 
more money in 2006. 

The good news for parents is 
that, according to a Dec. 15, 
2005, TRU press release, teens re- 
ported spending just as much of 
their own money in 2005 as they 
did in 2004, so that "... nearly 
all of the decrease [in spending] 
seems to stem from less access to 
other people's money." • 



dresses her iPod in a pink leather case 
that attaches to her clothing so she 
can listen to music while she runs for 
practice; she also tunes in on bus rides 
to away games. 

Although iPods are wildly popular, 
there are plenty of alternatives such as 
the iRiver T10 mentioned previously 
and the Creative Zen Nano Plus 
($109.99 for 512MB/$139.99 for 1GB; 
www.creative.com), which is available 
in 10 fun colors. 

Call Me 

Perhaps one of the most essential CE 
devices for some teens is a cell phone. 
Although the cool quotient is impor- 
tant — 17-year-old R.G. Clancy wants a 
Motorola RAZR V3 ($499.99; www.mo 
torola.com) because "that's the coolest 
phone ever" (and we'd have to agree 
with him) — that's not what bonds teens 
to their cell phones. 



If forced to choose, says Moira Rose, she 
would keep her Samsung SCH-A530 cell 
phone. "Without it I'm lost to the out- 
side world. I always have it because I al- 
ways need to keep in touch with all my 
friends." Although she says she's "not 
too much of a talker," she's on the 
Verizon Family Plan (www.verizonwire 
less.com) with plenty of minutes and 
text messaging. For her next phone, 
Moira Rose says she'd like one with a 
camera, although she'd still use her 
Pentax Optio digital camera (starting 
around $200; www.pentaximaging.com) 
for more important pictures because it 
delivers better quality images. 

Text messaging, like instant messaging, is 
becoming an increasingly popular form 
of communication among teens, espe- 
cially when it's not convenient to talk 
"live" on the phone. Keeping up with this 
trend, phones such as the Samsung T309 



($149; www.samsungusa.com), are being 
designed to make text messaging easier. 

Many schools have rules about not 
bringing cell phones into class, but we 
talked to a few teens who said that 
classmates will turn off the ringer, hold 
the phone under the desk, and send text 
messages back and forth — sort of like 
the electronic version of passing notes 
in class. Although that's rarely harmful, 
schools are becoming more aware that 
it opens up a whole new avenue of 
cheating on tests. 

It's (Mostly) A Guy Thing 

GenTecher Moira Rose will sometimes 
play snowboarding or car racing games 
on the Xbox. You're more likely, though, 
to find boys sitting at the control of 
videogame consoles (R.G. Clancy was 
playing his PS2 during our interview) 




CELifestyles / March 2006 51 



CE For Kids 



In the past couple of years, 
instant messaging— a capability 

that almost all ISPs offer- 
has become the communication 
method of choice 
for many teens. 



such as the Xbox 360 (starting at 
$299.99; www.xbox.com) or walking 
around with Sony's PlayStation Portable 
($249.99; www.psp.com), says 16-year 
old Chet Markwalter. "In general, girls 
don't talk about Xboxes as much as 
guys. A friend of mine who's a girl has a 
PlayStation but. . . she doesn't get into it 
as much [as the guys]." 

Chet chipped in with his brother to 
buy the original Sony PlayStation, 
which is in keeping with a December 
2004 study conducted by the CEA 
(Consumer Electronics Association) 
that indicates teens are more likely to 
use their own money to buy video- 
game consoles than other devices. 
Chet used to play it a lot more often, 
but he's busier now with homework 
and after-school activities. Still, 
though, he manages to play the occa- 
sional football game with friends. He 
does, however, think it would be 
"cool" to have an Xbox 360, as do 
many other teens considering how, in 
December, the device was as scarce as 
a Cabbage Patch doll was years ago. 

IMMe 

It's been almost 10 years since ICQ 
(www.icq.com) came onto the Internet 
scene, allowing people to connect one- 
on-one over the Internet. In the past 
couple of years, instant messaging — a 
capability that almost all ISPs offer — 



has become the communication 
method of choice for many teens. "It's 
pretty much replaced the telephone," 
says 16-year old Emily Harrison who 
IMs about three hours a day on week- 
days and five hours a day on weekends 
when she's at home. "It's like second 
air — I breathe, I'm online." 

And IM-ing is so pervasive that, she 
adds, "You pretty much always have 
someone to talk to." She and her friends 
talk about school, "whatever's hap- 
pening, and what you're doing at the 
moment." They'll also leave "Away" 
messages, sometimes alerting friends 
where they're going and to call if they 
want to join them. Emily's mom, Joan 
Harrison, says she was talking to a 17- 
year-old boy who said he and his friend 
would actually message each other on 
their laptops even though they were sit- 
ting only 6 feet apart. 

Only one of the teens we talked to said 
he had a computer in his room; others 
use computers in common areas of the 
house and sometimes share the com- 
puter with siblings and/or parents. 
Although laptops were not at the top 
of anyone's wish list — either teens we 
interviewed or those who participated 
in the CEA's 2005 12th Annual CE 
Holiday Purchase Patterns Study — 
there was some frustration at having 
to wait for a family member to get off 
the computer so they could do their 



Parents & 
Internet Safety 

As wonderful as the Internet is 
(and how could we live 
without it?), there's a dark side that 
parents need to be aware of. 
Teaching your kids to be safe on 
the Internet is not much different 
than the protective advice you've 
always given them. As a parent, 
you need to reinforce the basics 
such as don't talk to strangers. 

It may sound cliched, but it's crit- 
ical that you talk with your kids and 
make sure they stay safe. With blog- 
ging so popular on sites such as my- 
space.com and xanga.com, let your 
children know that revealing even 
the most innocent bits of personal 
information can lead to trouble. 

There are many sites on the 
Internet that will help guide you, 
but you may want to start with the 
FBI's A Parent's Guide To Internet 
Safety: www.fbi.gov/publications 
/pguide/pguidee.htm • 



homework or log onto the Internet. 
With laptop prices — even those from 
Apple ($999 for an iBook; www.apple 
.com) — dropping, you can pick up 
a basic but decent unit such as the 
Dell Inspiron B120 for about $600 
(www.dell.com). 

A few of the teens we talked to for this 
article have younger siblings, and it was 
interesting to hear that even pre-teens 
are hankering for their own CE devices, 
especially cell phones. For more infor- 
mation, see "CE & The Tween Years" on 
page 46.) With the incredible awareness 
that kids and teens have about con- 
sumer electronics, we as adults may find 
ourselves asking for their CE recommen- 
dations from now on. §5] 

by Theano Nikitas 



52 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 










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CE For Kids 




Editor's Top 10 

Reasons I Love These Devices 



CE Lifestyles editor Katie Sommer loves to tech out her young nieces and 
nephews with CE gear so cool they won't want to grow up. Here's why. 




IWho doesn't like a dance party 
with little kids? It's easy to create 
a playlist on your PC or burn a 
CD mix of favorite fun songs. 



2 



Visits to Grandma's are much 
more fun and relaxing with a 
portable DVD player in the car. 



It's never too early to introduce 
children to public broad- 
casting — try PBSKids.org for 

good educational online games and 

printable coloring sheets. 



4 A cell phone will help keep your 
teenage daughter safe when 
she's with her friends, and you 
know she'll always have it on her be- 
cause it makes her feel cool. 

5 Children and digital cameras can 
lead to some interesting, sweet, 
and touching photos from their 
unique perspectives. 



6 



An MP3 player or a cell phone can 
teach tweens important lessons on 
accountability and responsibility. 



7 In moderation, some CE prod- 
ucts, such as Vtech's V.Smile 
($59.99; www.vtech.com), can 
help toddlers with basic educational 
building blocks, such as reading 
and math. 

8 If you have digital photos, glue, 
a few pieces of paper, some 
string, and a pair of scissors, you 
have endless art project ideas for kids 
of all ages. 

GSome CE products, such as 
video monitoring systems, can 
give the parents of babies some 
much-needed peace of mind during 
naps and bedtime. 

I ^^k A big-screen TV can bring 
your entire family (even 
^^ your teenagers) together 
for a fun night of popcorn, soda, 
and "Madagascar." S=3 



54 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



CE For Kids 



Tips: 

Keep It In One Piece 



by Blaine A. Flamig 



Start Early 



It's never too soon to introduce your child to electronic toys that incorporate 
technology. Toys such as LeapFrog's LeapPad (starting at $20; www.leapfrog 
.com) not only help your child with learning the alphabet, colors, numbers, and 
more, but they also have many characteristics common to electronic devices. For 
example, a LeapPad-style toy can help your son or daughter learn such basics as 
adjusting volume levels, using a stylus-like pointer, finding icons, using keyboard- 
like input, and activating various features on command. In addition, these toys 
often have books or cartridges a child can swap out, similar to swapping out 
memory cards or batteries on an electronic device. 




Hands On & Hands Off 



Your kids need adult supervision, and there's nothing wrong with making this 
point clear — especially when it comes to them using your new $2,000 flat-panel 
TV. Where your electronics are concerned, set clear guidelines for what your chil- 
dren can and can't use without your supervision. Depending on their ages, follow 
this up with age-appropriate instructions for properly using that TV. For ex- 
ample, walk your grade-schooler through turning on the TV and DVD player and 
popping in her favorite "Blue's Clues" or "Dora the Explorer" DVD. Then let her 
try it herself a few times while you're watching, correcting her when needed. 
When she's ready, let her have a go at it alone with you out of the room. If you 
hear Blue giggling, your daughter has the basics down. 



Let Them Play 



You want your kids to be tech-savvy, right? Fortunately, children are inherently 
curious. Unfortunately, their way of learning often means tearing something 
apart, seeing what's inside, and trying to put it together again. This doesn't bode 
well for your $400 digital camcorder or its warranty. So, provide your kids a di- 
version away from your electronics by giving them their own. For example, for 
about $80 the Mattel Vidster Digital Camcorder (www.mattel.com) lets your 
budding Sofia Coppola make six- to eight-minute movies via 32MB of memory. 
Made of hard plastic, the camera connects to a PC via a USB port and has a SD 
card slot to add more memory, which means more cinematic magic. 



Fear Not The Teen Years 



You're familiar with "digital divide," 
right? Well, it probably exists be- 
tween you and your teen, just not 
in the direction you think. Many 
physicians and researchers argue 
that children pick up new skills 
faster and easier than adults. Spend 
enough time with a teen, and it 
shows. Kids today start using com- 
puters at school from Day 1. 
Beyond word processing, they're 
learning to program, create Web 
sites, design yearbooks and school 
newspapers, and use hardware and 
often sophisticated software. Email 
and instant messaging is the 
teenager's new phone, and iPods 
and portable music players are the 
new Walkman. That's not to men- 
tion the cell phones they inces- 
santly talk/IM on and know how to 
customize and program backward 
and forward. Today's kids don't re- 
member a time without tech- 
nology. They're comfortable using 
it, so feel comfortable letting them. 



CELifestyles / March 2006 55 



Digital Photo Project 



Photo Puzzle 




ecause our cover story is all about kids and technology, we thought 
we'd cover a digital photo project that was so easy that even children 
could do it. This month's project is a photo puzzle, which is a fun 

way of getting creative with lots of pictures at once. 



DIRECTIONS: 

With the sponge brush and decoupage, 
glue each photo, one by one, onto the 
poster board. The placement doesn't 
have to be perfect but make sure you 
completely coat the back of the photo 
for proper adhesion. 

When you've pasted all the photos on 
to the poster board, spread another 
layer of decoupage over the entire sur- 
face. Let it dry and repeat with one 
more layer of decoupage. 



Make sure it's completely dry and then 
use the pencil to draw puzzle pieces on 
the back side of the poster board. 
There's no science to this — depending 
on who you're making the puzzle for, 
the shapes can be very basic or very 
complicated. 

With adult supervision, of course, cut 
out the shapes. 

Have fun with it! This photo puzzle is a 
great activity for kids, and it makes a 
nice keepsake, too. 



SUPPLIES: 

Photos (you'll need quite a 
few— we used around 20) 

White poster board 

Decoupage 



Sponge 
brush 




TIPS: 



Sew a simple drawstring bag out 
of some colorful calico and store 
the puzzle pieces in that. 

Ym If your child is very young, use 
wallet-sized prints and an 8-1/2 x 
11 -inch piece of cardstock to make a 
smaller puzzle perfect for little hands. 

\m Need a late-winter craft project 
for kids with cabin fever? Send 
them off with a digital camera (make 
sure they know how to properly use it) 
and have them take a few dozen photos 
of their home, room, pets, yard, and 
anything else they can think of. Then, 
use your home photo printer to print 
their favorites, so they can make the 
puzzle. This will keep them occupied for 
hours, and you don't have to leave your 
cozy house. S§ 

by Katie Sommer 



56 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 




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o 

on 



Nikon SB-800 Speedlight i-TTL Shoe Mount Flash 
Nikon • www.nikonimaging.com • $321.35** 

A flash with all the bells and whistles; 
because lighting is everything 



< 

LU 

< 
u 



Nikon D2X with Nikon Nikkor 18-55mm 
f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S DX zoom lens 

Nikon • www.nikonusa.com • $4,955.16** 

Compete with the pros using this 12.4MP 
professional-grade camera 




Q. 
O 



o 

3 



Epson Stylus Photo R2400 
Epson • www.epson.com • $849.99 

Epson's amazing print quality and 
speed at up to 44 x 13 inches (HxW) 
for all of your printing projects 



on 
< 



Billingham 225 Camera Bag 

Billingham • www.billingham.co.uk- $338.96** 

Carry your camera and equipment everywhere 
life takes you with this high quality bag that 
doesn't scream "camera equipment on board" 



Gitzo Carbon 6XG1 157 

Gitzo • www.bogenimaging.us« $487.62** 

This lightweight tripod won't break your back, 
but it will put a dent in your bank account 



High-End Price: $8,322.11 



58 March 2006 / celifestyles. 



.com 



* Some of the cameras and equipment come in other colors, as well. 

** If not marked with asterisks (**), price is the manufacturer's suggested retail price. If marked with asterisks, price is an average of several online retailers' prices. 




Kingston CompactFlash Elite Pro 2GB 

Kingston • www.kingston.com • $133.26** 

Take plenty of precious pictures 
with this 2GB card 





— Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 

A simple and easy-to-use editing program with 
manual and automatic controls 






o 



§ 



Sigma EF500 DG ST 

Sigma • www.sigmaphoto.com • $199 

Ensure quality pictures in a variety of lighting 
conditions with this budget flash 



< 



< 



Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT with Canon 
EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens 
Canon •www.usa.canon.com • $918.84** 

All of the manual controls you need plus a 
few extras— including a price that won't 
break the bank 



4 



Adobe 
Photoshop 
ElennentS4,o 




Canon PIXMA iP4200 

Canon •www.consumer.usa.canon.com • $129.99 

Print your pictures at home using this high-speed 
photo-quality printer 




Tamrac Zoom Traveler 3 
Tamrac • www.tamrac.com • $84.04** 

An affordable bag with handy compartments 
for extra batteries and digital memory 



SLIK PRO 330 DX 

SLIK • www.slik.com • $99.66** 

Easy setup with quick release leg locks to get 
you set up and shooting in no time 



Budget Price: $1,664.78 




CE Lifestyles / March 2006 59 



Our Favorite 
Photo-Sharing Sites 

Share Photos & Much More 



hen looking through 

those holiday snapshots, 

you might want to share 

some with friends and 

family. But the Internet 

is a jungle; there is an overwhelming 

number of photo-sharing sites to 

choose from. We'll help you decide 

which site is best for you and your 

photo-sharing project. 

What Do You Want To Do? 

It's a good idea to evaluate what you 
want to accomplish with 




your photo-sharing site before you start 
one. Do you want to order prints? Do you 
want an online gallery to share with 
friends and family? Do you want a service 
to host your pictures for your blog or per- 
sonal Web site? Deciding what you want 
to do will help narrow the choices. 



If You Want To . . . 

We've divided what most people want to 
do with a photo-sharing site into four 
categories: make prints, share files, link to 
another site, or archive. Based on these 
preferences, here are the sites to check 
out and those to avoid. 

Make prints 'til your heart's content. If 

you love prints of your photos, look for a 
photo-sharing site that offers discounts 
based on the number of prints you buy 
from your shared pictures. For example, 
with Shutterfly (www.shutterfly.com), 
you'll receive a 2-cent discount on each 
print if you buy more than 100. (The 
price goes from 19 cents each to 17 cents 
each.) The site is easy to use, as well. To 
order prints simply click Order Prints 
next to the image you want. Sharing 
your gallery with others is easy, too; 
just type your recipient's email ad- 
dress on the Share Pictures page on 
the Share online tab at the top of 
each page, and she will get an email 
with a link to your photos. And 
with no gallery limits, you can up- 
load as many files as you want. 

Snapfish (www.snapfish.com) 
also offers inexpensive prints- 
only 12 cents each (plus shipping), and if 
you prepay for 1,000, the price drops to 
10 cents each. If you want to take advan- 
tage of the convenient Walgreens pickup 
option, the cost is 19 cents— but it might 
be worth the extra charge because you'll 
get your pictures in a few hours instead 
of several days. 



Keep an online photo archive. Maybe 
you don't care about sharing images 
with others or ordering prints right 
now. Another need these photo-sharing 
sites can fulfill is the ability to archive. It 
would be devastating, almost cata- 
strophic, if something happened to your 
computer and you lost all your data, in- 
cluding your digital photos. Let a free 
photo-sharing site serve as a back- 
up storage for your digital albums. 
Shutterbook (www.shutterbook.com) 
is a new service that launched in 
December of last year. Like Picasa, 
Shutterbook does not offer any print 
services, but the gallery and sharing as- 
pects of the site are unlike any others. 
The Macromedia Flash design makes it 
easy and fun to play a gallery as a 
slideshow with music and hi-res photos. 
Shutterbook offers a free basic account, 
but for $49 per year, users can have a 
customizable gallery that you can pass- 
word-protect, as well as add music to 
your slideshows and store hi-res photos 
with 20GB of storage space. Basic free 
accounts are limited to 200 pictures. 

Yahoo! Photos (photos.yahoo.com) is a 
basic site that's perfect for archiving. 
(Those who don't have a Yahoo! ac- 
count will have to create one to use 
Yahoo! Photos.) Jessie Anderson, a 
spokesperson for Yahoo! Photos, says, 
"Yahoo! Photos users see photography 
as primarily a means of memory preser- 
vation." With Yahoo! Photos, you get 
unlimited storage, but you need to log 
in to your account at least once every 
six months. 



60 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



Show Mom pics of the kids. If 

you want to make it easy on 
your mom to see your photos, 
use a service that doesn't 
require any registration or 
extra steps from the recip- 
ient. Kodak's EasyShare Gallery 
(www.kodakgallery.com) lets 
you enter email addresses for 
those you wish to share your 
photos with. You can also 
enter a personalized message 
and choose whether to require 
recipients to sign in to view 
your pics. If you don't require 
them to sign in, then anyone 
can view your pictures, but it 
makes it easier on Mom to see 
them if she doesn't have an ac- 
count with Kodak. If she does 
have an account, she can sign 
in and easily return to your 
gallery later because it will ap- 
pear under her My Friends' 
Albums list. 



If sharing your photos with 
friends and family is important, Snapfish 
might be one service to avoid because it 
requires viewers to sign in or create an 
account to see your pictures. Snapfish 
does, however, offer some unique gifts 
that can be customized with a picture 
from your gallery (see "The Extras" 
sidebar at the end of this article), and it 
offers inexpensive prints, as we men- 
tioned above. 

PhotoSite (www.photosite.com) gives 
you an easy gallery address to remember 
and share. After you set up an account, 
you can create a unique URL, something 
like yourgallery.photoslte.com (where 
yourgallery is a gallery name of your 
choice). There's no need to send an invi- 
tation email to friends and family be- 
cause they can easily find your pictures 
with your customized address whenever 
they want, just by remembering the 
URL. Instead of a Web-based inter- 
face like many sites, PhotoSite uses 
AlbumBuilder, a program that you 




download and install on your own PC. It 
is a dynamic program that lets you com- 
pletely customize your gallery, and you 
can also do minor photo edits such as 
correcting red eye and changing the 
brightness and contrast. One of our 
gripes is that every time the program is 
launched, a pop-up appears asking you 
to upgrade to one of the three premium 
services ($1.99, $2.99, or $4.99 per 
month, depending on number of 
photos to be shared and personalized 
URL) to upload more pictures and get 
customized gallery layouts. 

Shutterfly also offers a dedicated, 
unique URL. Just like with PhotoSite, 
you can choose something like your 
gallery. shutterfly. com (where your 
gallery is a gallery name of your 
choice). Shutterfly might be more at- 
tractive because there's no software to 
download and install and it is a little 
easier to navigate — with no annoying 
upgrade pop-ups. 



Add pictures to your blog or other site. 

Sure, most blogging sites allow you to 
add photos, but if you want to have gal- 
leries and galleries of photos in one or- 
ganized place, use a photo-sharing site 
that allows image hosting. If you use 
Google's Blogger, Google's Picasa 
(www.picasa.com) is the obvious photo- 
sharing program for you. Picasa inte- 
grates with Blogger to let you easily add 
photos to your blog. It also has simple 
editing functionality in the Basic Fixes 
toolset. One of Picasa's coolest features 
is the ability to create a Screensaver, 
movie, or slideshow from your pictures. 

Flickr (www.flickr.com) by Yahoo!, and 
in its beta stage at press time, allows 
users to upload photos via email, 
arrange and create sets of photos with 
Organizr, and send photos directly to a 
blog. It supports many popular blog ser- 
vices including Blogger, Livejournal 
(www.livejournal.com), Typepad (www 
.typepad.com), and more. 

If you're an eBay seller, you know how 
important photos (and lots of them) are 
to your buyers, smugmug (www.smug 
mug.com) is perfect for you: It's a paid 
service in which basic users can have an 
unlimited number of photos (up to 
8MB each). (A basic membership costs 
$29.95 a year.) In addition to linking to 
eBay listings, you can link images to 
blogs, your own Web site, and other ex- 
ternal sites — a photo-hosting service 
that many free sites don't allow. 

Make The Decision 

Wading through all the different op- 
tions can be frustrating and chal- 
lenging. But keeping in mind the 
intended purpose and audience can 
help narrow the choices, and with our 
suggestions, you're sure to find a 
photo-sharing site perfect for you and 
your photography habits. S§ 

by Brian Weed 



CELifestyles / March 2006 61 



The Extras 



M 



ost photo-sharing sites offer merchandise that you can customize with a favorite photo. Sure, customized mouse pads, 
shirts, and coffee mugs are everywhere, but some services we looked at have cool and unique items. Here are our favorites: 



At smugmug (www.smugsmug.com), 

you can create a photo puzzle 

($19.95), which is a wonderful 

birthday gift idea for a child. 



Photo coasters ($19.95) from 

PhotoSite (www.photosite.com) can 

make a great conversation piece at 

your next coffee-table gathering. 



Send your kids to summer camp 

with photo pillowcases ($19.99) 

from Snapfish (www.snapfish.com). 

They'll be sure to sleep tight. 




A photo clock ($49.99) from Snapfish 
(www.snapfish.com) makes a fun gift 
for the home office or kids' room. 



A photo cutting board ($24.99) from 
Snapfish (www.snapfish.com) is a 
great gift idea for your budding chef 
of a sister. Now you can 
make her cry even when she's 
not chopping onions. 

Send your parents a PhotoShow 
DVD ($19.99) from Shutterfly 
(www.shutterfly.com). It's an espe- 
cially useful gift if your folks don't 
have a computer or would rather 
watch a slideshow on their TV. 



TheB 

Ms 

Service 


ottom Lin« 

^rvices offer competiti 
sability. 

4x6 Print Price 


ve prices and features, but 

Features 


we cut to the chase and compared prices, features, 

Overall Usability 


Snapfish 

Kodak 
Gallery 


12 cents 
15 cents 


Pick up at Walgreens 
for 19 cents 


Easy to use and plenty of options for printing services at the 
lowest price we found 


Get in the mail or pick 
up at a CVS pharmacy 


Integrates with Kodak's EasyShare software, giving Kodak 
digicam users unparalleled convenience 

Great for the pro or aspiring pro; photography clubs and 
groups could benefit from the service's robust features 

A simple and straightforward photo-sharing and photo- 
printing service 


Flickr 

Yahoo! 
Photos 

Shutterfly 


15 cents 


Pick up at Target 
for 20 cents 


15 cents 
19 cents 


Pick up at Target 
for 20 cents 


1 5 free 4x6 prints 
for new users 


Great free photo-sharing service that is easy to use and makes 
it easy for recipients to see your photos 


smugmug 
PhotoSite 


25 cents 


Annual charge 
of $29.95 


The annual charge is minimal when compared with the ser- 
vices offered; pro photographers can share and sell prints of 
their best works with their own domain 

The proprietary software is a bit cumbersome, but for the 
tech-sawy user, it will provide plenty of features to fill a 
gallery with sharp photos 


29 cents 


AlbumBuilder software 
is robust but may take 
some setup time 







62 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



Audiovox is always close to her heart. 
She loves her Audiovox MP3 Player 
with FM tuner. Her well-rounded DVD 
Player with built-in video games. And 
the big, blue display of her XM Satellite 
Radio with FM modulator is always 
nearby. Accessorize your life with 
Audiovox. Go to www.audiovox.com 
or call 1-800-645-4994. 



©2005 




AUDIOVOX 



Know How 



One Problem, Three Solutions 



by Brian Hodge 



hoto editors have many tools that are unique to the digital realm. Some, however, are carryovers from 
the darkroom and working with negatives and photo paper. Two such tools are burning and dodging. 

Although editors have simple controls for adjusting the lightness or darkness of an entire image, with 
burning and dodging, you can pinpoint these adjustments at specific areas, usually to bring out more detail. 

In the darkroom, burning means increasing the light exposure on part of a print to darken it. Dodging is just the oppo- 
site — blocking light from the print to lighten part of the image. Their digital equivalents work on finished photos but 
deliver similar results. 



Microsoft Digital Image Pro 10 



Set the Zoom level, so you 

can easily target the desired 

area. 100% is a good place 

to start. 



Open the Touchup menu, 

choose Other Photo Repair, 

and click Dodge And 

Burn Brush. 



In the activity panel, set your 
Brush Size to roughly corre- 
spond to the area you want to 
treat. For the Brush Style, a soft 
edge will blend more smoothly; 
a hard edge will create more 
abrupt transitions. 




To burn, drag the Brightness 
slider below zero, into nega- 
tive values. Then click and 
drag your brush in the perti- 
nent part of the photo. Here 
we've deepened the tones 
along the lower part of the 
bamboo didgeridoo and 
darkened the rock to the 
girl's left. 

To dodge, set the Brightness 
slider to a positive value and 
then click and drag your 
brush. Here we've lightened 
our little tribal musician's 
face to bring it out of the 
shadows a bit. For burning 
and dodging alike, the effect 
is cumulative — it builds up 
with each pass of your brush. 

There's not much you can do 
to treat a white, overexposed 
area like the upper end of the 
bamboo. The area has to have 
color and shading before you 
can alter them. (We've ig- 
nored the Contrast slider here, 
which is a separate tool that 
essentially burns and dodges 
at the same time.) 



64 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0 



Open your photo in 

Standard Edit view and ad- 

just the Zoom setting, so the 

image is at a workable size. 



The Burn and Dodge tools 

(along with the Sponge 

tool) are located near the 

bottom of the left toolbar. 

Click and hold the button 

and select the one you need 

from the pop-up menu. 



Fine-tune your settings in the 
Tool Options bar. Click the 
Brushes arrow and select a 
style from the drop-down 
panel. For most applications, 
a soft round brush of a suit- 
able size will do the best job. 

You may need to reset Range 
from its default. The Mid- 
tones setting confines the ef- 
fect to the central range of 
brightness. Shadows and High- 
lights affect dark and light 
areas. Finally, set Exposure if 
needed; the higher the value, 
the more pronounced each 
brush stroke will be. 





















• 


• 






3E 


JK Soft Round 45 pixels ] 










V^SlJv 




• 


• 


• 




100 


200 


300 




F^ygfc'- 






Click and drag the brush to 
paint over the target area. As 
we did before, we've used 
Burn to deepen the bamboo 
and darken the rock. 



Now we've used Dodge to 
lighten the girl's face. For finer 
control, use a low Exposure 
setting and go over the area 
several times. Don't hesitate 
to change brush sizes for 
more detailed work. 



As long as you're in the 
neighborhood, try the 
Sponge tool, which works the 
same way but for saturating 
and desaturating color. 



CELifestyles / March 2006 65 



Jasc Paint Shop Pro 9 



Open your photo and adjust 

Zoom, so the image is a com- 

fortable size to work with. 



The Burn and Dodge tools are 

located in the middle of the 

left toolbar. Click and hold the 

button and select the one you 

need from the pop-up menu. 



Choose a brush from the 
drop-down panel. Round will 

usually work best, unless 

you're specifically going after 

a square-edged area. 




Adjust the other settings as 
needed. The ones you mainly 
need to be concerned with are 
Brush Size, Hardness (which 
determines how softly the 
brush edge blends), and 
Opacity (which is the equiva- 
lent of Photoshop Elements' 
Exposure setting). 



Click and drag the brush to 
paint over the target feature. 
Again, we've hit the bamboo 
and rock with Burn. 



Finally, we've lightened our 
girl's face with Dodge. You 
can quickly toggle between 
burning and dodging with 
your mouse's right button. If 
you've selected Burn, right- 
clicking and dragging applies 
Dodge and vice versa. 



66 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



Three wonders every digital 
camera owner should experience 



. — 



:4fe 




.*f *S(S W 








iN 



y^wL 



Mi 



Kangut uMedia X-change 

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the Media X-change is the perfect 
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this mini hard drive with the push 
of a button! 
Features: 

* Works with CF, SD, MMC, Memory 
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* Built-in Card Reader 
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* Portable design & custom carry case 

* Driverless on most OS 



Kanguru Slim FC-RW 

Never run out of storage! The 
Kanguru Slim FC-RW can provide 
portable backup or archival abili- 
ties for your flash cards while on 
the road! Burn your pictures 
directly from your flash card to a 
CD without a computer! 
Features: 

* Works with CF, SD t MMC, Memory 
Stick, and Microdrive 

* Backup cards over 1GB 

* Play DVDs or view pics on your TV 

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* Rechargeable battery 



KanguruQuickSilver 
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Run out of room for your photos 
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Make A 
Time-Lapse Film 




Take A Field Trip 



No animals symbolize spring more than lambs 
and rabbits. If you have access to a petting zoo 
or a kid-friendly farm, round up some children 
and your camera, and make a day of it. It will be 
educational for the children, and the pictures 
will likely be delightful. 



Spring Is 
For The Birds 



Springtime photography doesn't have to re- 
volve exclusively around flowers and plants. 
Many bird species are most colorful in the 
spring, when they break out their breeding 
plumage. They'll obviously be more difficult to 
capture than unmoving flora, but a couple 
tricks will help improve your odds. Set up one 
or more bird feeders in a location you can 
easily cover with your camera, without many 
background obstructions. If you have an SLR, 
invest in a telephoto lens compatible with 
your camera's body and electronics. A 200mm 
or longer lens will put you close to the birds 
without disturbing them. 



Shoot A 
Growth Series 



We hope you were thinking ahead and planted 
some flower bulbs last fall. From the time they 
first sprout through the ground, shoot a pic- 
ture of them every few days. After they've 
grown, flourished, and matured, select five 
shots that best represent various stages of life. 
Have them printed and then frame and hang 
them in order for a beautiful original series of 
prints. Or have them matted together in a 
row and placed in a single long frame as a self- 
contained exhibit. 



Blur Your 
Backgrounds 



Springtime brings a wonderful riot of growth, 
so when shooting foliage, you'll want to keep 
your picture's focal point confined to your 
subject rather than lose it against a busy back- 
ground. The way you frame your shot makes a 
difference, of course, but your best ally is a 
short depth of field (the area of a photo that's 
in acceptably sharp focus). This blurs the back- 
ground, so the subject stands out more clearly 
and is achieved by using a wide aperture set- 
ting (numerically low f-stop number). To assist 
you, most digital cameras have macro or close- 
up presets, often designated on the mode dial 
with a flower. If you have a choice of cameras, 
SLRs usually deliver better short depth of field 
results than compacts. 



For an even more ambitious project, shoot a 
photo of your flowers every day and be sure to 
keep them in order. After they've gone from 
sprout to full bloom, use your computer to se- 
quence the shots into a time-lapse film showing 
their complete growth. You can do this either 
in movie software, such as Microsoft Windows 
XP's built-in Movie Maker 2, or a slideshow pro- 
gram, such as Easy Media Creator 8 ($99.95; 
www.roxio.com), using the program's quickest 
display times and dissolve between each slide. 
Your main concern will be consistently shoot- 
ing the plants from as close to the same per- 
spective as possible. Use a tripod and mark the 
optimal location for its feet with small stones or 
pegs driven into the soil. 




by Brian Hodge 



68 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



iZHNTB 



AVOX I Jukebox 



Home Theatre 




A Portable Media Player 

The AVOX Jukebox Is the easiest way to turn your 

2.5" hard drive into a portable audio/video player. 

With a simple to use ON SCREEN DISPLAY, the 

AVOX Jukebox can play movies, music, or a 

slideshow of your pictures when connected to the 

AV inputs on any television. Since it also doubles 

as a portable enclosure, you can store your 

documents, programs, or any other data on the 

AVOX Jukebox as well. With the built-in high 

speed USB 2.0 interface, files can be transfer up to 

40 times faster than USB 1 .1 . Easy to use, sleek, 

and compact, the AVOX Jukebox is the perfect 

way to make your media as mobile as you are. 



where to buy 

rc/M TigerDirect Zp2£vmfiy 

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MOVIE 
MUSIC 




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Cleat tochiulMDr. fire* tMa. Great pdw! 



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For more information, please go to 

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ong to their respective campa 



Vantec Thermal Technologies 



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Tel. 510.668.0368 Fax. 510.668.0367 



ce ©home 



Gift Of The Month 

3D Home Architect Landscape & Patio Design 





pring will be here before we know it and with it 
comes the time for all things green. Although our 
moms always told us not to plant our flowers before 
Mother's Day, now is the perfect time to start plan- 
ning for the big day. If you know a gardener (or even 
someone who wishes she was), March's Gift Of The 
Month will help her turn her landscaping dreams into re- 
ality. Every month we feature a gift that you can pick up for less than $50 and is sure 
to please someone in your life. For March we've selected 3D Home Architect: 
Landscape & Patio Design ($19.99; www.encoresoftware.com), a software package 
that will come in handy when the sun comes back out to play. 



Use Your Green Thumb 

We have people in our lives who 
manage to do quite an impressive job 
planting every year, despite not having a 



lot of knowledge about what they're 
doing. They are somehow able to 
fumble their way through it with beau- 
tiful results. We, on the other hand, 
have not been so fortunate in past years. 



One of the reasons we like the idea of 
giving 3D Home Architect: Landscape & 
Patio Design so much is that whether 
you give it to someone who has a beau- 
tiful garden every year or someone 
whose green thumb is a little brown, she 
can benefit from it. 

Landscape & Patio Design can help you 
figure out how to make the most of 
your yard, whatever the situation. 
Using 2D and 3D views, the gardener 
(or gardener wannabe) in your life will 
be able to design a yard while choosing 
from more than 7,500 plants in the in- 
cluded encyclopedia. The program also 
has complete instructions on watering 
and caring for the selected plants and 
even a calendar of when to plant, de- 
pending on your growing region. 

If making a so-so yard into a flower- 
filled feast for the eyes isn't enough, you 
can use the patio design portion of the 
software to create an outdoor addition 
to complete your yard. You can also add 
elements such as driveways, pathways, 
retaining walls, ponds, and lighting to 
finish off your look. 

As the old saying goes, if March comes 
in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb. 
But now instead of having to just sit 
and wait for the lamb's arrival, gar- 
deners of any skill level can begin 
preparing for this year's outdoor 
makeover while the lion is still lurking. 
And they'll have you, in part, to thank 
for their bountiful success. 313 

by Joy Martin 



70 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



On such a nice day, 

don't you want to go outside and play? 




Boston Acoustics Voyager® Speakers and Subwoofers — 
designed to bring The Boston Sound™ to the great outdoors. 



www.BostonAcoustics.com 


Boston 

Boston Acoustics 


Your Sound Solution™ 





s 2005 Boston Acoustics, Inc. All rights reserved. Boston, Boston Acoustics, the Boston Acoustics logo, Voyager, are registered trademarks, 
and The Boston Sound is a trademark of Boston Acoustics, Inc. 



ce ©home 



Be Prepared 
For Disaster 

Protect Your Data From Catastrophe 




eitha Gallicio's Metairie, La., 
home has weathered hurri- 
canes and floods before, and 
the 3-foot piers that lift it off 
the ground have always kept 
her computer out of harm's 
way, so she didn't pack the 
PC when she left ahead of last 
year's Hurricane 
Katrina. "We've 
been dodging the 
bullet for years," 
Gallicio says. 

Gallicio, a draftsman who uses her 
computer to create custom maps for 
local businesses, stored many of her 
files on the system that sat on top of 
her desk. When she returned, she dis- 
covered that water had submerged the 
PCs most important component — the 
hard drive. "The water stayed for two 
weeks," says Gallicio. 

If Gallicio's experience sends a chill 
down your spine, you probably don't 
have copies of your most important files 
stored in a disaster-proof place. We'll 
help you plan a backup system that will 
keep your data safe when you don't 
dodge the bullet. 

Prepare For The Worst 

In some cases, we receive advance no- 
tice of impending disasters. In those sit- 
uations, people who have already 
created data backup systems can grab 
their backups before heading towards 
safety. But many catastrophes don't 



72 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



ce ©home 



Destroy Your Data 



Though it seems 
counter-intuitive, in 
some situations, you 
may need to protect 
some data by destroying 
it. If you decide to 
move from one external 
hard drive to a larger 
drive and want to sell 
the older device, you'll 
need to permanently re- 
move every trace of 



your personal docu- 
ments. You'll foil casual 
snoops by deleting a file 
(right-click the file and 
then click Delete); it's 
merely a speed bump to 
serious data thieves. To 
make sure your data 
won't see the light of 
day, invest in data dele- 
tion software that meets 
U.S. Department Of 



Defense standards. 
Make sure that the soft- 
ware will permanently 
delete all data on the 
drive: Some programs 
only delete individual 
files. Programs such as 
CyberScrub's cyberCide 
2 . 5 (www. cyberscrub 
.com) completely wipe 
your hard drive. • 



Protect Your Records 




IV VI an y °f our most 

1 V 1 important docu- 


digital format and then 


change the document.) 


back them up with your 


You can open PDF 


ments aren't on our 


other digital valuables. 


documents with any 


hard drives — they're in 


Many scanners can im- 


computer that has 


our filing cabinets. If 


port your documents to 


Adobe's free Acrobat 


you keep deeds, social 


Adobe's PDF format, 


Reader software, which 


security cards, or other 


which preserves the file. 


makes PDF a great 


important documents at 


(It doesn't add format- 


format for backing up 


home, scan them into 


ting or otherwise 


important data. • 



offer much warning. A lightning strike 
near your home may cause a power 
surge that can fry your computer. 
Earthquakes and tornados often strike 
without any warning at all. Fire is an- 
other threat — rescuing the PC or 
hunting for that external hard drive is 
the last thing on your mind when you 
wake up to find the house ablaze. 

What makes the perfect backup sys- 
tem depends largely on the quantity 
and value of your files. If your data is 
critical to your or your business' finan- 
cial well-being, you should view back- 
up hardware as only the first layer 
of protection. 

Hardware backups are handy — and also 
vulnerable. They can often store huge 



quantities of data (your music, photo, 
and video collections, for example). And 
they let you retrieve the backed up infor- 
mation quickly. If a PCs hard drive fails 
(taking your documents with it), you can 
replace the drive, reinstall the operating 
system, and then plug in your USB flash 
drive to transfer backed-up files to your 
computer. However, the disaster that 
wipes out your PC may well destroy your 
backup device. 

Online backup services are sometimes 
inconvenient and can be costly 
(Quicken Online Backup Service has 
plans that range from $8.95 per month 
to $24.95 per month), but storing your 
files on these remote servers almost 
guarantees that your data will survive 
whatever problems you encounter. 



You'll want to add this second layer of 
protection for your most precious files. 

Backup Hardware 

The days of carrying dozens of floppies 
are long gone. External hard drives, flash 
memory keys, and CDs make great 
portable storage for everyday use and 
for backing up important data. 

External hard drives, such as Western 
Digital's 320GB Dual Option Media 
Center WDXF3200JB ($279.99; www 
.westerndigital.com), make excellent 
backup devices and are fairly portable. 
Heavy-duty drives often plug into your 
power strip and transfer data via a USB 
cable, but you can detach the cords and 
toss the drive into a bag at a moment's 
notice. You can also plug the drive into 
other PCs (to retrieve your data) when 
you reach safety. 

If you want to back up multiple files reg- 
ularly, look for a hard drive that includes 
backup software. The program, which 
installs on your computer, can pull files 
out of several different folders and copy 
them to your external drive, which 
means you won't need to poke around 
your folder system every time you want 
to back up. These programs also let 
users specify backup schedules: You can 
configure the software to back up your 
data every night or once a week. 

Plan to back up only individual files — 
some backup software can copy your en- 
tire system to an external drive, but you 
may have trouble transferring the data to 
a new system (unless the PC's mother- 
board can boot from a USB device). 

Flash drives, also known as USB keys, are 
the tiny devices that drove floppy disks 
into obsolescence. A flash drive, which 
plugs into your computer's USB port, 
doesn't require a separate power source. 
It can't hold as much data as a hard 
drive (high-end drives store about 4GB, 
while inexpensive drives that store only 



CELifestyles / March 2006 73 



ce ©home 




256MB are available for less than $20), 
but if you want to keep important doc- 
uments in your pocket, you're looking 
for a flash drive. We especially like the 
1GB Kingston Data Traveler Elite ($110; 
www.kingston.com). 

If you want to make sure you don't 
leave your drive behind, you can attach 
it to your key chain. Keep in mind that 
you can easily lose such small devices — 
if you plan to store images of birth cer- 
tificates, social security cards, or other 
personal info, buy a drive that can en- 
crypt its contents. If you live in a flood- 
prone area, protect your devices with a 
water-proof box, such as OtterBox' 3500 
($28.49; www.otterbox.com). 

If you need to back up your data right 
away, grab your MP3 player or PDA. 
These portable devices can double as 
portable hard drives in a pinch. 

Backup Services 

Online data protection services let 
subscribers upload copies of their files 
to servers. If you have a broadband 



connection, the service can automatically 
retrieve the files you specify on a 
schedule, just as with regular backup soft- 
ware. You can also take advantage of a 
backup service over a dial-up connection, 
but keep in mind that dialup connections 
are notoriously slow. If you want to up- 
load more than a few megabytes every 
day, consider upgrading to broadband. 

Skip digital music, photos, and videos 
when you select the files that you plan to 
store remotely, as they'll quickly eat up 
your subscription's space allotment. 
Instead, focus on documents, as well as 
data files for important programs, such as 
your financial software. If you back up 
your financial program's data files before 
a disaster destroys your computer, you 
can install the program onto a new com- 
puter and then load your data files. 
Although Intuit offers a Quicken Online 
Backup Service ($8.95 to $24.95 per 
month; www.connected.com/quicken05/) 
that backs up Quicken (and other) files, 
you don't need to choose your backup 
service based on your financial software 
or other programs. DataDepositBox.com, 
for example, also backs up user-specified 



files and lets the user retrieve the files via 
any computer that can connect to the 
Internet (1 cent per megabyte; www 
.datadepositbox.com). 

When All Else Fails 

Don't give up hope if your plans fall 
apart and your only remaining copy of 
an important file is on a burned or 
flooded computer. Data recovery ex- 
perts use know-how and hi-tech tools 
to extract files from horribly mangled 
drives. Not all drives will relinquish data, 
of course, but if you're desperate to re- 
cover important financial info or an irre- 
placeable photo, it's worth a shot. You 
may not be able to deliver the drive in 
person, but the faster you can ship the 
drive to a recovery expert (especially if it 
has been damaged by water), the better. 

If you're thinking about sending your 
drive to a recovery center, you'll need to 
determine if the data is worth the cost of 
the service. "The cost of data recovery on 
drives up to 60GB is about $1,200," says 
Data Recovery Group's Michael Ahern 
(www.datarecoverygroup.com). "Then 
drives from 60GB to 120GB is about 
$1,500 and drives from 120GB to 200GB is 
about $1,800." And that's for drives that 
weren't submerged. "If there is water 
damage to the drive, you can expect to 
pay about $300 more" than the stan- 
dard price, says Ahern. However, Data 
Recovery Group offers discounts to dis- 
aster victims. 

Back It Up 

If you regularly back up your files to 
local hardware and remote servers, you 
can breathe a little easier when you hear 
about threatening weather or events. As 
for Gallicio, she is considering sending 
her drive to a data recovery service. And 
her data backup plans now include an 
external hard drive and automatic 
backup software. 3H 

by Joshua Gulick 



74 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



ce ©home 






a 




Keep Your 
CE Gear Clean 



D 



a 



Think Green 



Keeping your electronic equipment clean can 
help extend the usability of those items in the 
short run, but keeping your electronics from 
heading to your local landfill can help everyone 
in the long run. The EPA's (Environmental Pro- 
tection Agency's) Plug-In To eCycling Web page 
(www.epa.gov/epaoswer/osw/conserve 
/plugin) provides information about how to 
properly dispose of, donate, and recycle com- 
puters, monitors, TVs, and other electronic 
equipment. Click the Resources link for 
Questions To Ask A Recycler and Guidelines 
For Materials Management documents. 







Kitchen Care 



As your kitchen starts to see more and more 
electronics, such as under-the-counter radios 
and DVD/CD players, you'd do well to keep 
the lid on airborne grease. When cooking, 
make sure you use a vent hood. Weather per- 
mitting, you might want to open some win- 
dows to increase air circulation. Make sure to 
wash and dry your hands before reaching for 
the TV remote, radio controls, or microwave 
keypad. You'll also want to keep an eye on the 
hands of anyone else who is likely to touch 
your electronic stuff, especially the kids. 



Cord Organizers 



Even with all the cool wireless devices around 
lately, wires are a simple fact of life. But just be- 
cause we're willing to live with wires, power 
cords, and data cables doesn't mean we have to 
trip over them wherever we go. Cableorganizer 
.com features cord channels and raceways for 
hiding the wiring to larger electronics, such as 
your computer and home-theater system. For 
smaller items, the Cable Turtle ($5.99) comes in 
nine colors and attractively conceals excess ca- 
bling. Try the discrete earPod to untangle your 
earbud-style headphones. 



□ 



Keep It Clean 



When you read the product-care instructions 
for your electronics, you're sure to find lots of 
information about the device's proper oper- 
ating temperatures. You don't have to read be- 
tween the lines to figure out that in order to 
keep your stuff working well, you'll need to 
keep it in a clean environment. If you're plan- 
ning a home-improvement project, make sure 
to remove sensitive electronics from the area or 
cover them with a sheet. It's also a good idea to 
ensure that the day-to-day operating environ- 
ment isn't prone to excessive dust, dirt, and 
grime. Don't set sensitive devices where pets 
can get to them or within reach of small chil- 
dren. Vacuuming and changing furnace filters 
regularly can also help. 



Defeat Dust 
& Fingerprints 



In the war against dust, the battle is unending. If 
your electronic gear has a surface, you can bet 
dust will settle there. Moreover, monitors, TVs, 
computers, digital cameras, and the rest are vir- 
tual fingerprint magnets. Due to the sensitive 
nature of electronics, however, using a sopping- 
wet dishrag can have obviously disastrous re- 
sults. Falcon Safety Products (www.fa I con safety 
.com) offers several items in its Dust-Off line, in- 
cluding canned air dusters (starting at $2.99), 
premoistened antistatic Monitor Wipes ($8.99), 
and dry Multi-Purpose Wipes ($7.99). In an age 
where almost everything has a display, you're 
going to need some specialized chamois to 
scrub away the dust and fingerprints without 
scratching the screens. Falcon has that base cov- 
ered, as well, with its reusable microfiber Screen 
Shammy ($5.99). 




by Andrew Leibman 
CE Lifestyles / March 2006 75 




Sanus reinvents style in your own home with new Java furniture. Exotic hardwood in a luscious espresso finish, with the added 

contemporary flair of extruded aluminum and fluted glass, creates the newest tide in contemporary decor. As with all Sanus furniture, 

the Java line is built with unique A/V features such as extra-deep shelving, large wire channels and removable back panels. 

Features that set Sanus furniture apart from the crowd. ..like an escape to a secluded tropical isle. 



I\l U 



SYSTEMS 



THE UNION OF FORM AND FUNCTION 



www.sanus.com 800. 359. 5520 



ffr 



a© 



First Glimpse Special Product Section 



This special product section is produced in partnership with leading consumer electronics manufacturers 

and allows us to provide readers with the most timely product information possible. 

Browse through these First Glimpse pages to learn about the latest hot products. 



Fujitsu Plasmavision P50XTA51 US 78 

Hitachi 42-inch UltraVision CineForm Plasma HDTV 80 

Samsung HT-P1 200 82 

Mustek DV 5300SE Digital Camcorder 84 

PENTAXOptioMO 86 





CELifestyles / March 2006 77 



■ r 



Special Product Section 




Fujitsu Plasmavision P50XTA51US 

MSRP: $6,499 
www.plasmavision.com 



A Picture Worth A Thousand Words 



This integrated Plasmavision HDTV offers the complete solu- 
tion to top-quality home theater. 

The P50XTA51US offers rich, accurate, lifelike colors, high 
contrast in both light and dark rooms, plus stunning bright- 
ness from any viewing angle. 

The P50XTA51US plasma TV also includes an exclusive 
high-definition Digital Cable Ready tuner, and the AVM-II 
(Advanced Video Movement-ll) Digital Video Processor, of- 
fering you, the discriminating home theater enthusiast, the 
easiest and most efficient way to enjoy today's ultimate 



quality video performance from all your audio and 
video sources. 

It is easy to incorporate the P50XTA51US into any home 
theater setting due to its sleek silver bezel, the TV's light 
weight, and the extensive array of inputs and outputs that 
make integration a snap. 

Superior picture quality and natural color display com- 
bine with high resolution to virtually transport you to 
far away places without ever leaving the comfort of your 
own home. 



78 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



(to 









Special Product Section 




Other features include: 

• AVM-II Digital Video Processor 

• 1.07 billion colors 

• Ultra high-contrast ratio 

• 160-degree viewing angle 

• Slim and lightweight 

• 3-year inclusive warranty 

• AVM noise reduction 

• Advanced color management 



• Ambient light sensor 

• Side mounting speakers 

• Digital Cable Ready tuner 

• CableCARD slot 

• Eight picture memory modes 

• 16:9 aspect ratio 



Fufrsu 



CELifestyles / March 2006 79 



■ r 



Special Product Section 



Hitachi 42-inch UltraVision CineForm Plasma HDTV 

MSRP: $3399.95 
www.hitachi.us 




Discover The Innovation 



Experience the high performance and refined aesthetics of 
the UltraVision CineForm 42-inch Plasma HDTV. Distinct in 
design, it features innovative Hitachi technologies. The New 
VirtualHD 1080p II video processor analyzes and optimizes 
every video frame and combines with ALiS technology that 
produces over 1 million pixels for a brighter, smoother, and 
more film-like picture. The Illuminated Roll and Click Remote 
and Learning AV Net IV combine to provide easy channel 
navigation and the power to control your entire home theatre 
system. The HDT52 series delivers the ultimate in convenience 
with the TV Guide On Screen Interactive Program Guide 
providing superior program accessibility. The 42HDT52 is an 
intelligent blend of superior design and technology. 



Exclusive Features 

CineForm Industrial Design. An elegantly sculptured black 
frame surrounds the high-definition picture. 

VirtualHD 1080p II. When content from film is sent to your 
home, it requires processing that can cause picture noise or 
distortion. VirtualHD technology reduces this noise to a min- 
imum, recreating the smooth curves and high fidelity image of 
the original film source. An advanced technique, dynamic his- 
togram processing, digitally maps the incoming signal to opti- 
mize on-screen contrast, color, and sharpness. 

Quick Start Seamless HDTV Tuner. Hitachi HDTV tuner 
technology brings viewers a unique blend of convenience and 



80 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



ffo 









Special Product Section 




performance. Conventional HDTV tuners need extended 
startup time to scan for channels and require switching be- 
tween antenna inputs when selecting analog or digital pro- 
gramming. Hitachi HDTV tuner technology delivers the 
picture quickly with seamless access to all available channels. 

Learning AV NET. The advanced Learning AV NET system 
simplifies operation of your complete home theater with a 
single convenient interface. Learning AV NET makes the new 
UltraVision television the command and control center of 
your entire home theater system. 

Illuminated Roll & Click Remote. Easily browse channels or 
adjust volume using the unique rolling wheels or quickly 
create or change favorite channels at the push of a button. 



Day & Night Memory With Timer. Separate Day and 
Night Memory settings deliver superior picture quality for 
any lighting condition. By simply pressing a button on the 
remote or using the automatic timer, you can toggle between 
bright daytime settings and high fidelity nighttime settings for 
each source. 



HITACHI 

Inspire the IMext 



CELifestyles / March 2006 81 



ffr 



Special Product Section 



Samsung HT-P1 200 

MSRP: $999 
www.samsung.com 




Premium Home Theater 



Samsung once again provides the next step in home theater 
excellence with the HT-P1200. The premium home-theater-in- 
a-box system with powered subwoofer and SACD playback of- 
fers a high level of performance and aesthetics for home 
entertainment lovers. 

Designed with both the audio and the aesthetic needs of 
home-theater connoisseurs in mind, the HT-P1200 features an 



elegant black finish, black bezel, and Samsung's signature silver 
ring design that can also be found on select Samsung HDTVs. 
Home-entertainment lovers will be amazed by the accurate 
sound reproduction provided by 800 Watts of pure audio 
power. It features Extended Surround Effect from five speakers 
to simulate a virtual 8.1 -channel surround stage, and a sepa- 
rately powered subwoofer provides an earthshaking bass 



82 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



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Special Product Section 




sound, adding a new audio dimension to the special effects 
from movie blockbusters. 

The HT-P1200 supports DVD-Audio SACD, DivX, JPEG, 
MP3, and WMA-Disc playback. An HDMI Digital-to-Digital 
video output provides a top-quality signal transmission from 
the DVD player. The USB Host feature allows direct digital 
playback of MP3 or WMA files from a digital music player, as 



well as JPEG playback from most digital cameras or MPEG-4 
compressed digital video files through the USB input. 




CELifestyles / March 2006 83 



Special Product Section 




Mustek DV 5300SE Digital Camcorder 

MSRP:$129 
www.mustek.com 



Movies, Memories & More 



Mustek's DV 5300SE is a full -featured digital camcorder, high- 
resolution digital still camera, digital voice recorder, MP3 
player, and SD/MMC card reader. It also has the capability to 
be used as a Web cam for Internet video chat. 

The DV 5300SE has a newly designed control panel that 
merges user-friendliness with sophisticated manual options, 
such as digital effects, scene modes, and white balance, to 
assure stunning video, photography, and multimedia results. 

Extending the typical capabilities of a digital camcorder to 
meet a wider range of needs, the DV 5300SE eliminates the 
expense of purchasing an array of separate devices for video, 
photos, voice, and music, as well as the hassle of learning 
curves and storage of each of these devices. The DV 5300SE 
covers all these needs, and it is so compact that it's convenient 



to keep with you all the time, so you're always ready to cap- 
ture great pictures, video and sounds. 

Making Movies, Making Memories 

The DV 5300SE captures magic moments in full-action 
video excitement. Three video resolutions are available for 
you to choose from (640 x 480 [10fps], 352 x 288 [30fps] and 
320 x 240 [30fps]) depending on their quality and storage 
requirements. The MPEG-4-compatible video is captured on 
the camera's internal 32MB of memory or on a SD/MMC 
memory card up to 1GB. The video with audio can be 
viewed on the camera's LCD or easily downloaded via the 
high-speed USB port to a Windows PC or other multimedia 



84 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



ffo 



Special Product Section 




devices such as the new Mustek PVR-H140 ($399.99) 
portable media center. 

5MP Photography 

The DV 5300SE delivers the performance of a 5MP digital 
still camera at a fraction of the price and offers point-and- 
shoot simplicity with its built-in auto exposure, white balance, 
flash, and shutter. 


files stored on memory cards, while its integrated microphone 
allows the camera to record important interviews, business 
meetings, school lectures, and narrations as WAV files to be 
played back on a PC, uploaded to a Web page, or attached to 
an email. In addition, you can plug the camera's USB port into 
your PC to get an instant video conferencing camera for on-line 
video chat when using software such as Microsoft Net Meeting. 

Accessories include an installation CD, camera strap, bag, 
three AAA alkaline batteries, a USB cable, and an A/V cable. 


More Features = More Fun 

Why stop at movies and photos? The DV 5300SE's built-in 
headphones and speaker lets you listen to AAP3 or WMA music 


EZSustek 





® 



CE Lifestyles / March 2006 85 



ifasJf 






Special Product Section 



PENTAX Optio A10 

MSRP: $350 
www.pentaximaging.com 




Innovation & Excellence 



The PENTAX Optio A10 camera, which was unveiled in 
January at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show, is the first 
PENTAX compact digital with an 8MP CCD (Charged Couple 
Device) packaged in the signature slim, lightweight, stylish 
design of the Optio digital camera line. 

The A10 represents a complete upgrade and overhaul of 
PENTAX's digital camera series, and it will be the first 
model of the PENTAX high-end Optio series. The combina- 
tion of 8MP, shake reduction, and a new SMC (Super 
Multicoated) PENTAX zoom lens makes the Optio A10 the 
flagship model for PENTAX. 

The Optio A10 features a Shake Reduction system which 
is unique to PENTAX and delivers stability in shooting 



conditions that are sensitive to camera shake, such as tele- 
photo shots or indoor shots without a flash. 

The Optio A10 also features: 

High image quality with a large CCD. The Optio A10 is 
equipped with a new large CCD boasting 8.32 total 
megapixels. Featuring approximately 1.6% more light-receiving 
area than conventional PENTAX compact camera CCDs, this 
CCD offers advantages in superior tone reproduction, texture 
delineation, and noise reduction. 

High-performance SMC PENTAX zoom lens. Construc- 
ted from seven elements in five groups, including three 
double-sided aspherical lenses, the newly developed 
SMC PENTAX zoom lens produces clear, high-contrast 



86 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



(to 



Special Product Section 




images. The design corrects effectively for spherical and 
other aberrations, and original coating cuts out ghosting 
and flare. 

Elegant, stylish design. The Optio A10 features refined high- 
lights including a highly textured aluminum alloy exterior, a 
multifaceted accent lens ring, and a connector cover designed 
to blend in with the camera. 

Intuitive Mode palette. The Mode palette lists various 
modes on the LCD (liquid-crystal display) to allow quick 
navigation and selection from the 15 shooting modes and 
15 playback modes through the translucent display, which 
superimposes mode icons over the LCD monitor image, so 
changing settings while framing the subject is simple. 



Auto picture mode. Auto mode makes taking photos easy 
and fun. Selecting the Auto mode from the shooting mode 
palette has the camera automatically select the mode from 
Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, or Standard, according to the 
shooting conditions. 



PENTAX 



CELifestyles / March 2006 87 



music 



music 



by Sam Evans 



movies 



•AVAILABLE: NOW* PRICE: $12.80 




Though he spent years working with 
artists such as Sarah McLachlan and Veal, 
Broken (and other rogue states) shows that 
Luke Doucet has come into his own as 
both a solo musician and songwriter. The 
unique blend of musical styles makes it 
well worth the listen. 

The album starts off with "Brother," a 
song with a traditional country feel and a 
screaming steel guitar. "Emily, Please" is a 
ditty with a Spanish influence that imple- 
ments an interesting guitar melody sup- 
ported by a bright mariachi horn section. 
Our favorite song of the album, "Lucky 
Strikes," is a quirky song that features a 
few sly changes in meter and easy-to- 
relate-to lyrics that lament the difficulty of 
getting out of a toxic relationship. Even if 
you aren't a fan of the traditional sob-story 
country theme of this album, Doucet's wry 
wit, both musically and lyrically, makes it 
easy to enjoy. 

V y 




•AVAILABLE: NOW • PRICE: $15.98 




The spacey and open sound of S/T by 
Electric President is created by blending 
electronica with principles of minimalism. 
The instrumentation and melodic line are 
fairly simple but in a soothing rather than 
boring way. If you're looking for the per- 
fect album to relax to, look no further 
than this one. 



: MARCH 14 •PRICE: $12 




Though Killed John Train keeps the witty 
lyricism and folk formats that popularized 
Roy's previous album Big City Sin And 
Small Town Redemption, the band is experi- 
menting with different chord progressions 
and drum beats to make the lyrics more 
prominent and the music easier to listen to 
than previous releases. 



•AVAILABLE: NOW • PRICE: $16.98 




Juanita The Spanish Lobster is the latest in 
Magic Maestro's Stories In Music series. 
This is a great way to get your little ones 
interested in classical music. The story of 
Juanita, a lobster who longs to escape her 
mundane sea life for something a little 
more interesting, is accented marvelously 
by the London Philharmonic. 




If you've ever sang "Copacabana" at 
karaoke, this album is for you. It isn't 
the most intellectually stimulating re- 
lease of his career, but Manilow's rendi- 
tion of tracks including "Unchained 
Melody," "Are You Lonesome Tonight,' 
and "Beyond The Sea," show he can 
breathe new life into the classics. 



88 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



BY VINCE COGLEY 




»33H3i33B33m33EgM 



This quirky romantic comedy showcases Orlando Bloom ("The Lord of the 
Rings Trilogy," "Pirates of the Caribbean") in a role that's a departure from 
the swashbuckling parts he's used to. "Elizabethtown" begins with Drew 
Baylor's life spiraling out of control. After a botched job costs the shoe 
company he works for hundreds of millions of dollars and results in his get- 
ting fired Drew's girlfriend Ellen dumps him before the ink on his pink slip 
dries. Drew's on the verge of suicide when learns his father has died. On the 
flight home, he meets Claire Colburn (Kirsten Dunst of "Mona Lisa Smile" 
and "Crazy/ Beautiful"), and an unlikely relationship blossoms. Talented 
Director Cameron Crowe ("Jerry Maguire," "Almost Famous") wrote and produced the film. 






RATING: PG-1 3 • AVAILABLE: NOW • PRICE: $29.99 



Based on Jennifer Weiner's novel, "In Her Shoes" is a classic sibling-rivalry 
story. Susannah Grant (screenplays for "Ever After" and "Erin Brockovich") 
adapted the book's spirit to the silver screen. The film stars Cameron Diaz 
("There's Something About Mary," "Charlie's Angels") as Maggie Feller, the 
attractive, irresponsible little sister with dyslexia. Toni Collette ("The Sixth 
Sense," "About A Boy") plays Maggie's head-on-straight but plain sister 
Rose— a successful attorney who lacks Maggie's zest. Curtis Hanson ("L.A. 
Confidential," "8-Mile") sits in the director's chair, making a marked depar- 
ture from his more gritty work. Maggie and Rose have only their rough 



childhood in common, but Diaz and Collette give the sisters a palpable on-screen dynamic. 



r 



Although we preferred Wes Craven's aerial 
thriller "Red Eye," "Flightplan" has its mo- 
ments if you're willing to suspend disbelief. 
Kyle (played by Jodie Foster) is a grieving 
widow whose daughter mysteriously disap- 
pears when the two are returning home on a 
transatlantic flight with her husband's body. 
Peter Sarsgaard ("Jarhead") and Sean Bean 
("The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of 
the Ring") are sharp in their supporting roles. 



After starring in such Jerry Bruckheimer- 
produced flicks as "Con Air" and "The Rock," 
it's easy to see Nicholas Cage's ("Adapta- 
tion," "National Treasure") top billing as 
arms dealer Yuri Orlov in "Lord Of War" and 
assume it will be nonstop action. Quite the 
contrary, the Andrew Niccol ("Gattaca") film 
provides a hearty amount of drama and 
dark comedy to tell a compelling story 
about a side of war we rarely see. 



WING: PG • AVAILABLE: NOW • PRICE: $28.98 





Leave it to Director Tim Burton ("The 
Nightmare Before Christmas," "Charlie and the 
Chocolate Factory") to concoct a frightfully 
twisted, animated love story. Burton again relies 
on Johnny Depp ("Chocolat," "Finding Never- 
land") to voice Victor Van Dort, a young man of 
Victorian upbringing set to marry his true love, 
Victoria (voiced by Emily Watson of "Angela's 
Ashes"). When Victor, desperately trying to re- 
hearse his nuptial vows, practices by slipping his wife-to-be's ring on a 
twig, he suddenly realizes the twig is a decaying finger as he unwittingly 
unites himself with the Corpse Bride (voiced by Burton's female fave 
Helena Bonham Carter of "Big Fish"). The Corpse Bride whisks Victor 
away to the ironically lively underworld of the dead, which contrasts his 
stodgy Victorian life but ultimately teaches him where true love rests. 



It's no surprise to see a Valentine's Day release 
for the first season of one of our favorite TV 
shows. A medical dramedy that sets the affairs 
of the heart against a canvas of the physiology 
of the heart (among other organs), "Grey's 
Anatomy" follows Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen 
Pompeo), the title character and first-year sur- 
gical intern at Seattle Grace Hospital, as she 
struggles along with her fellow interns to tackle 
tough surgeries alongside romantic maladies. Although the shows start 
and end with Grey's voice-over narration, it's the neurotic hijinx of her 
intern cohorts that keeps us coming back for more. You may recognize 
Sandra Oh (Dr. Christina Yang) and Katherine Heigl (Dr. Isobel "Izzie" 
Stevens) from their prior roles in "Sideways" and "Roswell," respectively. 
Superbly acted, "Grey's" is a vertical incision above the rest. 




CELifestyles / March 2006 89 



games . . 

for you and the people in yo 



people in your life 



BY VINCE COGLEY 



uper Princess Peach 



•PRICE: $34.99 







«p 



133! 



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It's about time a little 
regal girl power made 
its way to the Nintendo 
DS. For years, Princess 
Peach has been rele- 
gated to the role of 
damsel in distress, 
waiting idly for Mario 
to rescue her. This 
time, Mario is the hap- 
less captive, and it's 
Peach's turn to return 
the favor. Super 
Princess Peach puts a 
few new twists on the 
classic 2D side- 
scrolling gameplay that 
made the Super Mario 
Brothers series one of 
the defining families of 
video games. 

seei 



ingdom Hearts I 



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VTTT 



«P 



1H 



PlayStation 2 



The first installment of 
Kingdom Hearts won over 
RPG (role playing game) 
enthusiasts by combining 
the traditional mystique of 
Square Enix RPGs with 
Disney's familiar and love- 
able cast of characters. 
The story follows Sora, 
Goofy, and Donald as 
they continue their quest 
through Kingdom Hearts' 
fantasy realm. In addition 
to stunning graphics 
(you'll swear you're actu- 
ally interacting with a 
Disney movie), Kingdom 
Hearts II features cameos 
from characters of Square 
Enix's popular Final 
Fantasy series. 

m 



E? 3E29 



^TTTT 



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^m 



Xbox 360 



•PRICE: $59.99 




If Gears of War is any 
indication of what 
Microsoft's Xbox 360 is 
capable of, we like what 
we see. The game uses 
the Unreal Engine 3, 
which is a fancy way of 
saying these are some of 
the most breathtaking, 
realistic graphics we've 
ever seen. Gears of War 
is a third-person tactical 
shooter with enough 
shoot-em-up action to 
tide Halo fans over until 
Halo 3's inevitable 
debut. You'll assume 
the role of Marcus Fenix 
as he leads his team 
against the ghastly 
Locust Horde. 



90 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



It's the accessory every iPod should come with, 
to at least partially justify those high prices. 
The $39.95 OtterBox for the iPod nano is a 
waterproof (down to 3 feet, anyway) enclosure 
that still lets you use all the controls, including 
the Click Wheel. It also protects your nano 
from drops, sand, spills, and other hazards. 
Add your own waterproof earphones, and per- 
haps Otter's $14.95 armband, and you can jog 
in the rain or listen in the tub. There are 
models for other iPods, including the new 
video units, at www.otterbox.com. 





'WW.DULUTHTRADING.COM • PRICE: $59.99 



Even a notebook bag can be ready for 
the backcountry. If the hiker in your 
life starts to feel withdrawal when away 
from his laptop, give him this beauty 
from Duluth Trading (www.duluth 
trading.com). Stiff sidewalls, moderate 
padding, and fleece lining surround a 
roomy, segmented cargo hold. Pockets 
are everywhere, including a removable 
cell phone sheath. A nonslip shoulder 
harness with chest straps and generous, 
breathable back padding will remind 
him that this $59.99 backpack is the 
real deal. 



The mid-1970s, your neighbor's base- 
ment, and glowing white blocks on a TV 
screen. For many of us awestruck brats, 
Pong was our first introduction to video 
games — not to mention the coolest toy a 
kid could have. Dutch design studio 
Buro Vormkrijgers is about to bring this 
retro gem back into your home, rein- 
vented as a clock. The two paddles auto- 
matically play table tennis on-screen, 
and the "score" tells you the time. 
Unfortunately, you can't actually play 
Pong on the Pong Clock, so let's start a 
petition for that, shall we? The Clock is 
available for worldwide shipping from 
www.bvks.nl, at an estimated price of 
between $100 and $200. 



. . & gifts 



on the lighter side of technology 



BY MARTY SEMS 



CELifestyles / March 2006 91 



what they're 



by Kathryn Dolan 



It's one thing to buy various CE devices, but it's another entirely to maintain them. The tally increases when you're paying for soft- 
ware upgrades, hardware accoutrements, subscription services, and the latest, greatest gadgets. When estimating the cost of your 
computer, digital music player, or cell phone, for instance, don't forget to add in the associated costs: a broadband or dial-up 
Internet connection; music downloads from iTunes, Napster, and Rhapsody, to name a few; and the monthly service charges. 



Jennie Schh 




Jennie Schlueter of St. Charles, Mo., 29-year-old mother of spir- 
ited 2-year-old Micah relies on electronic gadgets, such as her PC, 
for her freelance writing and editing. Jennie says this is kind of a 
tough question because although she and her husband, Todd, 
have big-ticket items on their wish lists, they usually buy what 
they need when they need it. Several weeks ago, she needed a 
recorder for phone interviews; she bundled Micah and the other 
little boy she watches in the car and off to RadioShack they went. 
The Schlueters plan to get satellite radio for the car, and they'd 
like a receiver for the house, too. A Sirius subscription is $12.95 
per month. Portable receivers cost about $330, and home re- 
ceivers range from $250 to $2,000. Jennie and Todd have cell 
phones for which they pay $60 per month, and cable runs $150 a 
month. (It includes cable, landline, and Internet services.) 
Jennie downloads music from Napster Light, at 99 cents per 
song, and she pays $ 1 5 per month 
to Earthlink to maintain her 
email address, even though 
the local cable company 
is her ISP. 

Next year, they 
may buy the sur- 
round-sound 5.1 
speakers, receiver, 
and progressive-scan 
DVD player that 
Todd wants, but not 
this year with a new 
baby boy on the way. 




Essnrani 



J 



Thomas PR agency president Karen Thomas has a most- 
impressive wish list for CE gadgets in 2006. This over-30 
Long Island native worked bi-coastally, commuting between 
her Melville, N.Y., and San Francisco, Calif., offices and 
lived in England as a child. Karen attended college in New 
York City, and she still has an apart- 
ment there, too. 

We asked what she's 
planning to spend in 
2006 for her own per- 
sonal use. Karen 
says, "The most 
important items 
on my list are a 
TiVo and a new 
MP3 player." 
Karen plans to buy 
a new microwave, 
DVD player, big- 
screen TV, laptop, 
printer and photo 
printer, and cell phone this 
year. Her list includes cable TV 

and wireless routers, and she's going to need music down- 
loads for that new MP3 player. When she buys a new digital 
camera, she'd also like to get camera accessories and storage 
drives for the photographs. All told, Karen estimates she'll 
spend roughly $13,000 on CE devices and subscription ser- 
vices in 2006. 




92 March 2006 / celifestyles.com 



How Much Do 

you Spend 

On CE Devices 

A Year? 




Melissa Ebert, a 21 -year-old junior majoring in fashion mer- 
chandising at Philadelphia University, will probably spend less 
than she'd like this year because of school costs. Funds permit- 
ting, she says, "I'd like a new flat iron to straighten my hair. The 
one I want is about $160. Also, I really want a car adapter for 
my iPod mini." 

Melissa is hoping to spend $80 for the adapter, so she reads 
the Best Buy ads in the Sunday paper and waits for a sale. She's 
also hoping for a sale on the Altec Lansing inMotion iM3 
($179.99), so she can listen to her mini without headphones. 
And, although she buys music from iTunes, Melissa is set 
for a few months because she got 
generous iTunes gift certifi- 
cates for Christmas last 
year. She'll use them, 
but she also knows 
she'll probably buy a 
few CDs this year, so 
she can rip those 
songs onto her mini, 
too. She'll likely buy 
a few DVDs, as well. 
Melissa is not in the 
market for a laptop or a 
printer, though. She has 
an HP laptop she got for 
high-school graduation, and it's 
working well. She has an Olympus 
digital camera, but she's planning to buy another xD memory 
card, probably the 256MB card, which usually runs about $35. 

Depending on how the coverage and service are in 
Philadelphia, Melissa may get a new cell phone, too. She says 
she's pretty happy with her Samsung phone and Verizon ser- 
vice, and both worked for her in New Jersey, but she's not 
sure yet about coverage in Philadelphia. 



mm 




TY NESTER 



Elaine Davis, 52, and husband Brye, also 52, are empty nesters, 
but they still supply their two grown children with electronic 
gadgets. Daughter Katie and her husband Marty are building a 
new house, and son Bobby is a senior at MIT. Elaine laughs, 
saying, "I'm fairly low-tech, but Brye and the kids feed off each 
other and get the latest gadget the minute it's available." 

Elaine contents herself with their castoffs, which aren't too 
shabby because none of them are very old. Her husband is the 
purchaser of all things electronic, and he justifies everything he 
buys by giving the old one to the kids. And the kids encourage 
the practice by talking up every new device on the market. 

She can't estimate their yearly CE 
device bill because it's huge. 
Elaine says, "Brye and Bobby 
are both MIT geeks, and 
it's utterly remarkable the 
amount of stuff they 
think they need." 

They'll definitely 
buy one laptop this 
year, and they always 
exchange gadgets for 
Christmas; the kids are 
grown and don't want or 
need clothes. One year it 
was digital cameras and 
photo printers. This past year, it 
was iPods and iPod accessories. 
Bobby even engraved his proposal on the iPod 
nano he gave his girlfriend (now fiancee — she accepted). Elaine 
gave Brye a DLO TransPod, so he can listen to his iPod in the car. 
She's not sure what they'll exchange this year, but it'll be gadgety. 

Brye bought a first generation 42-inch rear-projection 
Mitsubishi HDTV before HD broadcasts were available in their 
area. He called Comcast, the cable provider, daily for weeks lob- 
bying for them to broadcast in HD until they finally did. She says 
for dual-tuner DVR service, basic and extended basic HD cable, 
and broadband for their Internet connection, they pay $106.51 
per month. 

They all have cell phones, too, and Elaine, Brye, and Bobby all 
have Verizon, which includes unlimited minutes to talk to each 
other. Elaine says they can't share minutes because Brye's com- 
pany pays for his phone, and Bobby has to have a 617 area code, 
so his friends on campus don't have to pay for long-distance calls 
to talk to him. Because you can't have two area codes on a family 
plan, they pay about $85 per month for the phones. She adds, 
"We initially bought camera phones but quickly discovered that 
aside from having people's pictures associated with various rings 
and numbers, we never used the cameras." 




CELifestyles / March 2006 93 



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Push these buttons with 
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Incase f lower foucH 

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Tireless Outdoor Speakers 

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Hapitest Electronic 
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Gerber Oaisy 'LapSchtiocs 

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Copyright© 2006 Syntax Groups Corporation All Rights Reserved 



Why should we 
continue to carry 
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